At a glitzy ceremony hosted at the Celtic Manor Golf Club, Wye Valley & Forest of Dean Tourism received their Regional Winners award for Best Destination in South East Wales, with WVFDT Directors Francesca Newell and Liz Marshall, with Marketing Manager Tim Davies being pictured with Jason Thomas, Director Culture, Sport and Tourism for VisitWales.
Welcoming 7 million visitors a year, with a spend of £350million, the Wye Valley region is a leading visitor destination, including Monmouthshire, Forest of Dean, South Herefordshire. The visitor economy is critical to the economy of the area, supporting over 7,000 jobs and tourism businesses/strategic partners work together through effective destination management planning to identify projects to improve the experience and the attractiveness/accessibility of the area. From soft product with innovative self-guided trails (Myths/Legends, Cycle sculptures/Tour of Britain, and film/TV locations) to physical product; visitor information points, new websites, apps, walking/cycling paths.
The strategic partners, forming Wye Valley and Forest of Dean tourism (WVFDT) provide business development opportunities (social media, welcome, marketing training) and community engagement (volunteers at tourist information points, events, visitor attractions). The two groups come together for initiatives where local people are encouraged to enjoy and explore the local tourism area (Wales Tourism Week).
The businesses/strategic partners work hard to ensure a sustainable visitor economy; sustaining businesses and supporting best practice in sustainable activities, from foraging and local produce to environmental commitments (laundry/energy). Fundamentally, the WVFDT partnership across three counties and two countries, with 350 business members, shows a strategic commitment to a sustainable visitor destination.
The area is an award-winning destination, with food, accommodation and attraction providers winning awards in regional and national competitions/schemes from AA, Michelin, Taste of the West to Wales Tourism Awards, Wales and West independent beer awards, Social travel Britain awards.
Helen O’Kane Co Chairman of WVFDT said “This is fantastic for Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Tourism and for all our members, confirming what we all know that the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean is one of the best destinations to visit for exciting adventures, romantic breaks, family days out and history and heritage”
Maureen McAllister said: “The association is led by 10 volunteers who tirelessly work to promote this beautiful area nationally and internationally. We have 300+ members and collectively we strive to help local businesses deliver memorable experiences to their customers, visitors and guests. This award is a testimony to the dedication of the board of directors and the commitment and passion of our members.”
Although missing out winning the overall category of Best Destination in Wales, there was a win for the DeanWye with Monmouthshire Cottages winning Best Self Catering in Wales, and being handed their award by Lord Elis- Thomas AM, Minister for Culture Tourism and Sport.