Within the first few months of being open the Wales Coast Path had already provided more than a £16 million boost to the Welsh economy and attracted 2.89 million visits, according to new research by the Wales Economic Research Unit.
The Wales Coast Path formally opened in May 2012 but the research looked at use of the Wales Coast Path between September 2011- when many of the main routes were already open - and August 2012.
The research indicates that 2.89 million people used the Wales Coast Path over the period and estimates that the path attracted 1.6 million day visitors and 835,000 overnight stays.
Environment Minister, John Griffiths has welcomed the report. He said:
“The opening of the Wales Coast Path last May was a really big moment for Wales as we became the first country in the world to have a continuous path along our coastline.
“This report shows that even before the path was formally open it was attracting many thousands of visitors and providing a real economic boost to coastal towns in Wales.
“The research also indicates that the path resulted in an additional £32.2m worth of demand in the Welsh economy between September 2011 and August 2012 which equates to an impressive £16.1 million of Gross Value Added (GVA).
“And as the benefits are shared between of range of sectors such as retail, manufacturing, hospitality and transport we know that it is not just traditional tourism businesses that are benefitting from this excellent resource.
“I am confident that the path will continue to attract a high number of visitors to our coast and will provide this much needed economic boost for many years to come.
“I am therefore pleased to announce that the Welsh Government will continue to invest in a programme of Coastal Access improvements over the next two years as part of our work ensure the best possible experience for visitors to our coast path.
“As we continue with this work I would urge coastal local authorities and landowners to continue to support us in our efforts to spread these benefits right around the Welsh coast and ensure the very best outcome for Welsh communities and businesses.”
The Welsh Government is investing £1.15million in 2013/14 to ensure the Wales Coast Path is of consistently high quality. This builds on Welsh Government investment of up to £2 million a year between 2007 and 2013 which resulted in the opening of the 870 mile path that runs right around the Welsh coast line. Welsh Government investment was supplemented by £3.9 million from the European Regional Development Fund between 2009 and 2013.