Wales will be highlighting the benefits of nature for delegate wellbeing with the launch of the ‘Year of the Outdoors’ at this year’s IBTM-maailma Barcelonassa.
This latest thematic year will reinforce the country’s renowned strengths in everything from outdoor pursuits, sports and adventure to mindfulness and wellbeing. The year will also celebrate the country’s outstanding natural landscape and wealth of outdoor experiences, including its three National Parks, 600 Castles and its 870-mile Coastal Path which make Wales the only country in the world with a continuous walking path around its entire coastline.
The Year of the Outdoors will include two recently secured major international showcases to be hosted in 2020 at the Celtic Manor Resort and the newly opened ICC Wales. Meet GB – VisitBritain’s flagship event for the international business events community – will take place in April next year, incorporating themes of wellbeing, nature and sustainability using inspiration from ICC Wales’ woodland surroundings. Wales will also host the International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) next October – the first time the global B2B event for the golf travel industry has been hosted in the UK. The event will showcase Wales’ business strengths combined with beautiful natural terrain, suitable for the year-round golf offering that exists across Wales. The country is home to 200 golf courses, from historic seaside links to beautifully manicured parkland resorts.
Heledd Williams, Head of Business Events for Visit Wales, said: “We are thrilled to be launching the ‘Year of the Outdoors’ at this year’s IBTM World. Next year will be an opportunity to showcase not only our beautiful landscape but also our connected business and economic strengths that put us at the forefront of developments in themes like alternative energy, the environment and life sciences. Around 58,000 people work in the energy and environment sectors in Wales and rapid innovation is taking place all the time in areas of marine energy initiatives and low-carbon projects. Our landscape and natural environments are key to the success of these economic industries in Wales.”
International Convention Centre Wales (ICC Wales) opened in September and is already becoming known for its unique incorporation of the outdoors with stunning woodland views, natural daylight throughout the venue and outdoor meeting areas. ICC Wales is a game-changing venue for Wales and establishes the whole country as a true destination for business events. The spectacular new venue hosted more than 8,000 delegates during its opening two weeks with the three-day UK Space Conference among the first events to make use of the 4,000 sq m pillar-free exhibition hall, the 1,500-seat auditorium and the 15 flexible meeting rooms.
Earlier this year ICC Wales published ‘The Great Outdoors – how the natural world can enhance a business events experience. The report focussed on four main themes:
– The need for more nature in our lives given the levels of stress that many of us face in the events industry
– The positive benefits nature can bring to an event experience, including greater learning and wellbeing experiences
– How Wales is harnessing its environmental strengths through its natural landscapes and emerging technologies
– How event professionals can make the most of nature in event planning, including a ten-point guide to making an event “nature-friendly”
Wales’ wider outstanding natural landscape also makes the country ideal for out of conference experiences. Visitors to the capital, Cardiff, can easily refresh and recharge and explore the great outdoors in the middle of the bustling city. Delegates can head to Bute Park, next to Cardiff Castle and experience ‘forest bathing’, embark on a seasonal walk and discover the beautiful array of trees or meet the beekeepers.
Alternatively, The Vale Resort, home to Hensol Castle, is set in 650 acres of Welsh countryside just six miles outside Cardiff City Centre. The resort has partnered with Call of the Wild for outdoor team building events including Clay Shooting, Archery and Canyoning, and earlier this year, the resort earned itself a coveted place in the first edition of Lonely Planet’s Wellness Escapes book.
North Wales, known as the adventure capital of Wales, offers a vast range of unique attractions with innovative reinventions of former industrial landscapes. Out-of-conference activities include Zip World, the fastest zip line in the world and Adventure Parc Snowdonia for outdoor team building and incentive activities such as off-road pump track and mountain bike skills.
Mid Wales is home to the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), an eco-centre that researches and supports greener ways of living and is home to Europe’s foremost eco-centre WISE. CAT offers practical workshop spaces and new experiences range from traditional crafts and sustainable building to ecology and organic gardening.