At the start of Wales Tourism Week 2019, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas visited Blaenafon to see the work taking place to promote industrial heritage attractions.
The Deputy Minister met with representatives from The Valleys that Changed the World. The initiative, which was launched in 2016, encourages heritage partners to work together to promote and interpret the story of our industrial past - more than over 70 organisations are now part of this network.
Led by Torfaen County Borough Council, with funding from Visit Wales’ Regional Tourism Engagement Fund, the project is developing joint working initiatives as well as providing practical support in terms of knowledge building, networking and marketing.
The Deputy Minister also had the opportunity to experience the underground tour at Big Pit National Coal Museum, which along with Amgueddfa Cymru’s National Waterfront Museum; National Slate Museum and National Wool Museum brings our industrial past to life.
Following his visit, Lord Elis Thomas, said:
“As Wales Tourism Week gets underway - which celebrates partnership working for the good of the tourism sector, I am pleased to see so many individuals and groups involved in this area and working together to map and promote industrial heritage attractions.
“Industrial heritage is an important element of the story of Wales and it figures prominently in my Priorities Document for the Historic Environment of Wales. The work which I’ve seen today chimes with the idea of doing more to map and promote industrial heritage attractions.
“The regeneration of Blaenavon as a consequence of its World Heritage Site status provides an example of what can be achieved. We are also supporting Gwynedd County Council as it seeks World Heritage Status for the slate landscape of north-west Wales.
“Wales has such varied industrial heritage story to share - our heritage can do much to promote and protect Wales’ place in the world and, in particular, through the distinctive identity that it has given to our regions.
“We’ve also seen how our industrial heritage sites have boosted the economy in north Wales - such as the development of the Zip World attractions which have gained global attention and there are other industrial sites that have sat unused for years - which have been repurposed - such as Surf Snowdonia, near Conwy and Rock UK in Trelewis.
“Another example of partnership working is work taking place with the Valleys Regional Park – we want to help communities celebrate and make the most of the natural resources and heritage which are at the heart of the Valleys’ identity and culture and using our industrial heritage as a catalyst for future development.
“Just as innovation was the catalyst to create our industrial landscapes - innovation and partnership will too ensure that the past plays an important role in celebrating our industrial heritage and instilling pride in our communities.