A LAUNCH event for a new £3 million tourism initiative was held at the National Library of Wales last week.

The new sustainable tourism initiative, ‘Coastal Uplands Heritage and Tourism’ is being led in a collaborative effort between Aberystwyth University, University College Dublin and the Dyfed Archaeological Trust, with the aim of encouraging sustainable forms of tourism and offering an economic benefit to west Wales and east Ireland.

The initiative hopes to operate over two years in the Cambrian Mountains and Preseli Hills in Wales and the Wicklow Mountains and Blackstairs Mountains in Ireland.

These areas will be used to promote sustainable forms of tourism, using their cultural and natural heritage assets to do so.

Professor Rhys Jones from the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University said: “The four coastal upland areas of the Cambrian Mountains, Preseli Hills, Wicklow Mountains and Blackstairs Mountains have historically been reliant on traditional industries such as agriculture and forestry.

“Each of the areas possesses some tourism infrastructure in addition but, at present, this is relatively under-developed, especially when compared with the mass tourism taking place along the coasts of both Ireland and Wales.”

Project leaders in Ireland, Dr Christine Bonnin and Dr Arlene Crampsie of the University College Dublin’s School of Geography said: “Drawing on the rich natural and cultural heritages of the coastal uplands bordering the Irish Sea, this project offers local communities and tourism stakeholders an exciting opportunity to develop sustainable, locally appropriate tourism offerings.

“Combining existing and new heritage tourism initiatives, the project will showcase the shared and unique aspects of our joint heritages to a diverse tourist audience, helping to build sustainable tourism through community development.”

The ambition of the scheme is to increase the number of tourists within these areas by five percent.

Speaking to the Cambrian News, Professor Rhys Jones said: “Reaching a five percent increase in tourists in the area is of course going to be a challenge, it’s a short project due to the nature of he funding but it’s certainly doable.

“The aim is to use areas such as the Cambrian Mountains and harness their excellent tourism assets, add value and unlock their potential.”

Professor Jones went on to explain that there is a lot of emphasis on connectivity. The emphasis is on connectivity, areas in west Wales can be only a number of miles away but for someone using the train, they may as well be 400 miles away.

“We want to try and implement more cycling and walking routes to connect these areas and offer people a sustainable way to travel.”

The project held its launch event this week and is due to start operation over the coming months.