Surf Snowdonia doubles visitor projections in first full year of operation

Adventure Parc extends its 2016 surf season in response to customer demand Figures released today show that in its first full season Surf Snowdonia has welcomed more than double the number of visitors it had originally forecast.

The world-first inland surf lagoon in North Wales – which opened to global media interest in August 2015 and has since won a whole clutch of plaudits and endorsements – has welcomed more than 150,000 people through its doors since its first full season started in March 2016. Surf Snowdonia’s business plan was built around a projection of just 70,000 visitors per operational year.

The figure equates to 72,000 activity bookings, with the remaining visitors coming to enjoy ‘unbookable’ activities such as the children’s soft play centre, the cafés, restaurant, bar, retail and special events. Named by influential industry journal Lonely Planet as one of the world’s hottest new travel destinations for 2016, the flagship outdoor adventure destination in North Wales has drawn visitors from as far afield as New Zealand, Nepal and Nebraska.

Managing director Andy Ainscough said: “The majority of our visitors live within a two-hour-drive radius, with London and the South West also making up a significant part of our UK market. “We expected a certain level of international interest when we launched based on the press coverage we had in various territories. But that initial interest shows no sign of waning - we are still seeing a significant proportion of our visitors – around 12% – coming from overseas. “That equates to around 18,000 international visitors coming to North Wales this year to enjoy a surf, inland, seven miles from the sea. That makes us smile for all sorts of reasons.” In its first full year of operation Surf Snowdonia was named as one of the world’s Top 20 Most Extreme Adventures by travelsupermarket.com, starred in a £2.5 million TV Advert for Visit Britain, and has been called ‘the most headline-stealing example of North Wales’ reinvention’ by Lonely Planet when it listed North Wales as number 4 in the world’s Top Region's to Visit in 2017. The head of its surf academy, Jo Dennison, a former Welsh and British surf champion, also featured in the high profile Visit Wales EPIC marketing campaignas well as on flagship TV programmes like Blue Peter, BBC Countryfile and Newsround. It’s the kind of significant publicity that has helped to position North Wales both domestically and internationally as the UK’s go-to region for family-friendly outdoor adventure and activities. Jim Jones, managing director of regional marketing agency Go North Wales, said: “North Wales is at the centre of the growing adventure holiday market and is earning recognition as a world leader as demonstrated recently by the Lonely Planet accolade, which specifically referenced Surf Snowdonia. “Developments like Surf Snowdonia have become real game changers for the region. It is a very special place - not only because it is a world-first commercial inland surfing lagoon - but because it is an attraction and destination that appeals to all generations. “From my perspective it has made my job of promoting the North Wales region to the world a whole lot easier.” In October 2016 Surf Snowdonia became the first ever inland stop on the UK Pro Surf Tour when it hosted the Surf Snowdonia Pro Surf Challenge in partnership with Conwy County Borough Council. The event drew two thousand surf fans from across the country to watch the UK’s best pro surfers take part in an unprecedented inland competition. It was also watched keenly by the international surf community as it gears up to take part in the Olympic Games for the first time at Tokyo 2020. The IOC has yet to confirm whether the Olympic surf competition will take place in the ocean or a wave pool. Community surf club In September 2016 Surf Snowdonia launched a community initiative in the form of the Dyffryn Valley Surf Club. At £3 per session per week, the club makes surfing affordable and accessible to local youngsters who might otherwise find it difficult to access the sport. Surf Snowdonia donates its waves, equipment and tuition to the club for free. As well as learning a new skill, the members get the opportunity to study for lifeguarding qualifications which may land them a job with Surf Snowdonia in the future. The 2016 season also saw Surf Snowdonia work with UK military charity Help for Heroes which delivered three, week-long residential surf courses for wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans after Surf Snowdonia donated a package worth £12,000. The Wave Project, a charity which uses surfing a tool to help local youngsters struggling with mental health and confidence issues, is also a regular visitor to the facility. Managing director, Andy Ainscough said: “It’s been a phenomenal year for us – hard work but very gratifying to see how our offer and our team has evolved over the last 12 months. “We’ve always wanted to deliver a world-class experience in what is a world-class destination. North Wales is a stunning region and it’s a real privilege to be able to live and work here. It’s great to see the region starting to get the recognition it so richly deserves and see inbound visitor numbers steadily increasing. “At the same time, Surf Snowdonia is also very much a facility for local people, and we see initiatives like the Dyffryn Valley Surf Club as a really meaningful way for us to give something back to the amazing community where we have made our home. “We have some more exciting development plans in the pipeline and will continue to build on what has been a very solid first full year. We’ve no doubt that 2017 will be our best year yet.” In response to customer demand, the adventure park has extended its autumn/winter surf season from a planned finish mid-November until Sunday December 18th. The surf lagoon will then re-open for its new season in March 2017. Surf Snowdonia will host a surf-themed Christmas Market on the weekend of 10-11 December, with a programme of similar community events scheduled for the coming year.  Surf Snowdonia is also hosting corporate Christmas lunches, dinners and events throughout November and December.

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