It coincides with a report – Valuing Wales’ National Parks – being launched today (Wednesday) at the Pierhead Building in Cardiff which reveals that over 12 million people visit our National Parks each year at Bannau Brycheiniog, Pembrokeshire and Snowdonia spending £1 billion on goods and services.
The findings of the ARUP report commissioned by National Parks Wales, the Welsh Local Government Association and Natural Resources Wales looks at the extent to which our National Parks which cover 20% of our physical landscape impacts upon the economy and the lives of people in Wales and beyond.
The Minister with responsibility for Wales’ National Parks John Griffiths AM said, “This report – Valuing Wales’ National Parks – makes for interesting reading and shows clearly what an asset the National Parks are to the nation and our economy. Amongst the many positives that emerge from the report are the 12 million annual visitors – testament indeed to the popularity of the Parks and their importance to the communities both within and beyond their boundaries. It is also a credit to the National Park Authorities who play such an important role in making the visitor experience an enjoyable one.”
Speaking on behalf of National Parks Wales, Aneurin Phillips Chief Executive of Snowdonia National Park said, “When people think of Wales’ National Parks I’m sure that many images come to mind reflecting the geographical diversity of their respective landscapes – from the slopes of the Bannau Brycheiniog and beautiful Pembrokeshire coastline to the heights of Snowdonia. But one thing, I’m sure, that we all agree on is that these areas of outstanding beauty symbolise the spirit of Wales – an inspiration for generations of writers, poets and artists.
“They are places – vast open spaces – where people can go to breathe, to pause and reflect or to bike, climb, run and feel exhilarated. They are very much the lungs of our nation. Less known perhaps, are the tangible benefits of these natural assets. To this end, a partnership of National Parks Wales, the Welsh Local Government Association and Natural Resources Wales commissioned Arup to consider the economic value of Wales’ National Parks – the Bannau Brycheiniog, Snowdonia and Pembrokeshire Coast.”
He added, “The results are revealing. Together, Wales’ National Parks attract over 12 million visitors each year spending an estimated £1 billion on goods and services – outperforming their English and Scottish counterparts in terms of visitor nights – with a higher proportion of visitors staying in the Welsh countryside. Unlike the National Parks in the United States, which are largely uninhabited areas, Wales’ National Parks are very much living communities with over 80,000 people residing within their boundaries, providing employment for approximately 30,000 people. This report has given us a real insight into the tangible economic benefits of our National Parks and I’m naturally pleased with its findings. I’m also delighted by the support we’ve received across the political spectrum at the National Assembly for Wales.”
Kirsty Williams the Assembly Member for Brecon and Radnorshire said, “As an Assembly Member whose constituency lies in the heart of the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park, I can testify at first hand to the importance of these open spaces and the positive impact they have on the quality of life of both residents and visitors. Our National Parks occupy 20% of Wales’ physical landscape and are amongst our most visible and striking natural assets. What is perhaps less well known is the tangible economic benefits of our National Parks which are considerable. Of course, maintaining these parks for the enjoyment of the public requires careful management and care and their success is testament to the work of the National Park Authorities charged with this duty.”
Paul Davies the Assembly Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire said, “The Pembrokeshire National Park is very much at the heart of my constituency and I consider myself fortunate to represent such a beautiful part of the country. Our National Parks symbolize the character and essence of Wales and in many respects they are Wales’ window to the world. Understanding their economic value is crucial on so many levels. The findings of the report – Valuing Wales’ National Parks are very positive indeed, highlighting their significant contribution to the Welsh economy.”
The Statement of Opinion reads,
‘This National Assembly commends the work of our three National Park Authorities and recognises their significant contribution to the Welsh economy – estimated to be in the region of £1 billion. We further acknowledge that the National Parks of Wales play a pivotal role in the economic development of their respective regions that extends far beyond their physical boundaries. The specialised and consistent approach to the management of these natural assets ensures their protection and sustainability for the enjoyment of both residents and the 12 million annual visitors’.