Work will begin on a £4m project to transform the former Welsh International Climbing Centre in Trelewis, creating new employment opportunities and attracting more visitors to the area.
Cabinet Secretary for the Economy Ken Skates and Minister for Lifelong Learning and the Welsh Language Alun Davies, who chairs the Taskforce for the South Wales Valleys, will attend a ceremony to officially mark the start of the exciting redevelopment program at Rock UK Summit Centre.
The project has received £2.3m of EU funding through the Welsh Government’s Tourism Attractor Destination project led by Visit Wales. The new centre will include a 100-bed outdoor education and residential centre, which will attract visitors from the UK and overseas.
Ahead of the ceremony to mark the start of the transformation of the Summit Centre, Ken Skates said:
“The funding will transform the Summit Centre into a first-class residential adventure facility that will create a new adventure tourism hub in South East Wales.
“Our aim through the Tourism Attractor Destination programme is to focus efforts and investment on key projects in each region so we have a real impact on Wales’ profile in this globally competitive market.
“The outdoor adventure market in Wales is growing rapidly and consistently - this additional high-quality accommodation is a great benefit for the region. Wales’ Year of Adventure 2016 is drawing to a close but investment in the sector signals further growth and development in adventure tourism. Visitors don’t just come to Wales to appreciate our wonderful views and the amazing landscapes but to experience the adventures and to enjoy our heritage sites which tell our story.
“This project fits well as we look forward to the Year of Legends in 2017 when we will bring the past to life like never before and celebrate new Welsh legends.”
Minister for Lifelong Learning and the Welsh Language Alun Davies said:
“Tourism is big business in Wales and worth about £5bn a year to our economy. The industrial heritage of the valleys has proved a rich resource for visitors from around the world and Rock UK’s Summit Centre will be another draw for the more adventurous.
“One of the aims of the Taskforce for the South Wales Valleys is to stimulate economic activity in our valleys communities and create jobs. Attracting fabulous inward investment like this can help us achieve our goals.”
As part of the EU-funded Tourism Attractor Destination project, the redevelopment will transform the area into a must-visit destination. The new centre will act as a hub for activities in the area including the excellent mountain bike facilities in Gethin Woods and the activities on offer in Brecon Beacons National Park. Alongside the residential facilities there will be a new gym, outdoor play area, café, meeting rooms and additional outdoor activities to serve the wider South Wales communities.
The redevelopment will directly create 35 full time equivalent jobs and the potential to accommodate 55 jobs as well as supporting jobs during the construction phase.
The Rock UK team, including chief executive John Heasman and centre director Rachel Allen, will share the plans at the former drift mine.
Mr Heasman said:
“Today’s announcement will create a high-quality residential centre for young people from all over the UK to visit and people who are young-at-heart too. The local community is at the heart of our vision and the new facilities will complement the existing stunning indoor climbing centre and be available for all to enjoy, transforming young lives in Wales.
“We are grateful for the support of Welsh Government and Merthyr Tydfil Council in getting this regionally important project to this stage. In addition to the ERDF investment, support has been secured through a consortium of other funds, including Ffos y Fran Community Fund and Big Lottery Fund People and Places programme.”
The Welsh Government has supported a number of significant tourism investments throughout the valleys including the EU-funded Bike Park and the recently-opened Royal Mint Experience.