THE WELSH MOUNTAIN BIKE INITIATIVE – OR …
THE POWER OF TRAILS
Dafydd Davis
Tales from Wales

The Welsh Mountain Bike Initiative 1998-2002
Or How Trails Changed Wales!?
• What was it all about?
• Wh...
THE WELSH MOUNTAIN BIKE INITIATIVE
WHAT WAS IT ALL ABOUT?
Developing Wales as a mountain
bike destination

Realising the v...
THE WELSH MOUNTAIN BIKE INITIATIVE
WHERE?
Forestry Commission Land in Wales
THE WELSH MOUNTAIN BIKE INITIATIVE

WHY DID IT HAPPEN?
• As a direct result of developments at Coed y Brenin
• Demonstrabl...
THE WELSH MOUNTAIN BIKE INITIATIVE

WHO WAS INVOLVED
• Forestry Commission Wales
• The Welsh Assembly Government
• Local A...
WHAT WAS IT ALL ABOUT

Developing Wales as an MTB destination
•Wales was not known as an MTB destination
• Negative image ...
WHAT WAS IT ALL ABOUT

REALISING THE VALUE AND POTENTIAL OF PUBLIC LAND
• Most land in Wales privately owned
• Forestry Co...
WHAT WAS IT ALL ABOUT

MANAGING RECREATION
• Unsanctioned trails
• Minimising environmental impact
• Managing conflict bet...
WHAT WAS IT ALL ABOUT

BEINIFITS TO COMMUNITIES
• Economic
• Social
• Health
• Getting local people to use their local for...
WHY DID IT HAPPEN

The Coed y Brenin Story
• 1994
• Forest Visitor Centre
• Declining visitor numbers
Reverse the trend
Wi...
THE COED Y BRENIN STORY

• CYB not an MTB destination

• Visitor centre
•

Walking trails

•

CYB not primary reason for v...
THE COED Y BRENIN STORY

• Mountain biking was an
opportunity
• Mountain biking also a
potential problem
• Lack of underst...
THE COED Y BRENIN STORY
• 1st 3 trails 1994 - 1995
• Budget of £750

•

volunteers, hand tools
THE COED Y BRENIN STORY

commercial sponsors
magazine space

increasing visitors
THE COED Y BRENIN STORY
Visitor monitoring and understanding the market

• age range 20-40
• social grouping A B
• high in...
THE COED Y BRENIN STORY
Visitor monitoring and understanding the
market – dispelling the myths
• ride once a month
• high ...
THE COED Y BRENIN STORY
• 1994 – 16,000
visitors
• 2001 - 150,000 +
visitors
• 84% mountain
bikers
• 75% of mountain
biker...
THE COED Y BRENIN STORY
•
•

CYB now primary reason for visiting
area
Average spend per head per day
£50 in late 90’s)

•
...
THE COED Y BRENIN STORY

CYB SHOWED THAT
• Segmented market
• Potential for growth in key parts of market
• Potential econ...
THE COED Y BRENIN STORY

MARKET SEGMENTS
• Trail riders
• Sport riders
• Enthusiasts
• Downhillers/freeriders
MARKET SEGMENTS
TRAIL RIDERS
• Skilled outdoor enthusiasts
• Fit
• Predominantly male
• Members of pressure groups
• Chall...
MARKET SEGMENTS
SPORT RIDERS
• Competitive cyclists
• Involved in other cycle sports
• Limited outdoor skills
• Members of...
MARKET SEGMENTS

DOWNHILLERS/FREERIDERS
• Small but growing segment
• Mostly male 14 – 35
• Specific requirements
• Diffic...
MARKET SEGMENTS

ENTHUSIASTS
• Recreational riders
• Wide spectrum of ability and fitness
• Limited outdoor skills
• 30/70...
POTENTIAL FOR GROWTH

ENTHUSIASTS
• Most potential for growth
• Potentially high volume
• Potentially high value
• Targete...
POTENTIAL FOR GROWTH
• Trail products for Enthusiasts limited in UK and Wales
• Forestry Commission in best position to fi...
MOVING UP A GEAR
• Cycling Wales Action Group (CWAG)
• Partnership between key agencies and others
• Development of FC MTB...
MOVING UP A GEAR
THE PARTNERS
• Forestry Commission – trail development and management
• Wales Tourist Board – strategic m...
MOVING UP A GEAR
THE STRATEGY

• 5 short break destinations

• Must reflect variety of landscapes and terrain

• Must acce...
THE DESTINATIONS

• Gwydyr
• Coed y Brenin
• Nant yr Arian
• Afan Argoed
• Cwm Carn
THE DESTIANTIONS
GWYDYR FOREST
• Well developed tourism infrastructure
• Easy access for visitors from NW England
• Existi...
THE DESTIANTIONS
COED Y BRENIN
• Forest park
• Visitor centre
• Timber production secondary
• Iconic status – high profile...
THE DESTIANTIONS
NANT YR ARIAN
• Remote location
• Visitor centre working under capacity
• Local tourism industry in decli...
THE DESTIANTIONS
CWM CARN
• Urban fringe forest (Cardiff, Newport)
• High levels of unsanctioned MTB use
• Major conflict ...
THE DESTIANTIONS
AFAN VALLEY

• Major timber production area
• Existing unsanctioned MTB use
• Very deprived local communi...
THE PRODUCT
• Waymarked trails
• Centred on visitor facilities
• Consistent standards
• Effective interpretation
• Fun, ac...
THE PRODUCT
• 300km of waymarked trails
• Enough riding for 2 – 3 day visit
• Prescribed loops
• Flexible trail systems
• ...
MARKETING
• Mountain biking key component of WTB product marketing
• WTB marketing campaign manger for Mountain Biking
• C...
MARKETING
ON LINE
• www.mbwales.com
• Rider centred information
• Trail maps
• Pictures
• Trail information
• Feedback
• N...
MARKETING
PRINT

• Individual trail guides
• Mountain Biking Wales Brochure
• Inserts in MTB magazines
• Distributed at to...
MARKETING
PRESS AND PR

• Press releases
• Events
• Editorial
OUTPUTS
WHY ARE OUTPUTS IMPORTANT?
• Condition of funding
• Ensures future funding
• Monitoring trends
• Helps get the pro...
OUTPUTS
MEASURING OUTPUTS
• Calibrated electronic counters on trails
• On site surveys to establish vehicle occupancy
• Fa...
OUTPUTS
KEY OUTPUTS
• Visitor numbers
• Visitor trends
• Visitor profiles
• Visitor satisfaction
• Visitor spend
• Economi...
VISITOR NUMBERS
Marked increase at all sites
Estimated 400,000 new visitors to Wales (in
2002)
VISITOR TRENDS
• Initial sharp increase in visitor numbers
• Growth has slowed but still growing
• Repeat visits
• Short b...
VISITOR PROFILES
• Majority from outside Wales
• Majority high income
• Majority urban based
• 70:30 - male: female ratio
...
VISITOR SATISFACTION
• 98% satisfaction with trails
• 2% not satisfied with trails
• Satisfaction centred on quality of si...
VISITOR SPEND
On site spend – CYB
• Car parking - £50,000 per year
• Bike wash - £5,000 per year
• Shop turnover - £70,000...
VISITOR SPEND
• WTB conversion figures from web based surveys
• FC – site based surveys
• Accommodation
• Fuel
• Food
• Co...
PRESS AND PR
• PR strategy part of development strategy
• PR centrally handled by specialist agency
• PR budget £12,000 fo...
OTHER OUTPUTS
• Training
• Employment
• partnerships
TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT
• 47 people employed in trail construction
• Majority previously unemployed
• Training schemes set...
PARTNERSHIPS
• Community groups
• Local authorities
• WTB
• Taking development on to the next stage
• Ensuring local owner...
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
Sea change in FC recreation policy
Recreation became central to FC’s business
Much greater demand from ...
AND FINALLY …
Welsh MTB Initiative kick started trail development in the UK
and beyond

It took the development of CYB to ...
The Power of Trails?!
Daffyd davis   the power of trails
Daffyd davis   the power of trails
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Daffyd davis the power of trails

  1. 1. THE WELSH MOUNTAIN BIKE INITIATIVE – OR … THE POWER OF TRAILS Dafydd Davis
  2. 2. Tales from Wales The Welsh Mountain Bike Initiative 1998-2002 Or How Trails Changed Wales!? • What was it all about? • Where? • Why did it happen? • How did it happen? • What were the outputs/results?
  3. 3. THE WELSH MOUNTAIN BIKE INITIATIVE WHAT WAS IT ALL ABOUT? Developing Wales as a mountain bike destination Realising the value and potential of public land Managing countryside recreation Bringing benefits to isolated and deprived communities Putting Wales on the map
  4. 4. THE WELSH MOUNTAIN BIKE INITIATIVE WHERE? Forestry Commission Land in Wales
  5. 5. THE WELSH MOUNTAIN BIKE INITIATIVE WHY DID IT HAPPEN? • As a direct result of developments at Coed y Brenin • Demonstrable outputs from Coed y Brenin • Evidence of demand • Clear opportunity • Time was right
  6. 6. THE WELSH MOUNTAIN BIKE INITIATIVE WHO WAS INVOLVED • Forestry Commission Wales • The Welsh Assembly Government • Local Authorities • Local Community Groups
  7. 7. WHAT WAS IT ALL ABOUT Developing Wales as an MTB destination •Wales was not known as an MTB destination • Negative image among mountain bikers • Showed great potential • Varied terrain, topography and ground conditions • Excellent access to potentially very large markets • The need to manage mountain biking in some key areas
  8. 8. WHAT WAS IT ALL ABOUT REALISING THE VALUE AND POTENTIAL OF PUBLIC LAND • Most land in Wales privately owned • Forestry Commission largest public landowner in Wales • Commercial forestry becoming less and less viable in Wales • WAG – ‘Increase the value of public forests to the people of Wales’ • Health • Quality of life • Tourism • Community engagement • Employment • Training
  9. 9. WHAT WAS IT ALL ABOUT MANAGING RECREATION • Unsanctioned trails • Minimising environmental impact • Managing conflict between users • Balancing recreation with forestry • Managing liability • Minimising business risk
  10. 10. WHAT WAS IT ALL ABOUT BEINIFITS TO COMMUNITIES • Economic • Social • Health • Getting local people to use their local forests • Getting local people to value their local forests
  11. 11. WHY DID IT HAPPEN The Coed y Brenin Story • 1994 • Forest Visitor Centre • Declining visitor numbers Reverse the trend Without a budget
  12. 12. THE COED Y BRENIN STORY • CYB not an MTB destination • Visitor centre • Walking trails • CYB not primary reason for visit
  13. 13. THE COED Y BRENIN STORY • Mountain biking was an opportunity • Mountain biking also a potential problem • Lack of understanding from managers • Softly, softly approach
  14. 14. THE COED Y BRENIN STORY • 1st 3 trails 1994 - 1995 • Budget of £750 • volunteers, hand tools
  15. 15. THE COED Y BRENIN STORY commercial sponsors magazine space increasing visitors
  16. 16. THE COED Y BRENIN STORY Visitor monitoring and understanding the market • age range 20-40 • social grouping A B • high incomes • £800 bike • urban based
  17. 17. THE COED Y BRENIN STORY Visitor monitoring and understanding the market – dispelling the myths • ride once a month • high disposable income • limited outdoor skills • want fun riding • seek single track trails
  18. 18. THE COED Y BRENIN STORY • 1994 – 16,000 visitors • 2001 - 150,000 + visitors • 84% mountain bikers • 75% of mountain bikers weekend visitors
  19. 19. THE COED Y BRENIN STORY • • CYB now primary reason for visiting area Average spend per head per day £50 in late 90’s) • Estimated £4.7 million into local economy (in late 90’s) • Service sector developed as a result • Year round season
  20. 20. THE COED Y BRENIN STORY CYB SHOWED THAT • Segmented market • Potential for growth in key parts of market • Potential economic impact
  21. 21. THE COED Y BRENIN STORY MARKET SEGMENTS • Trail riders • Sport riders • Enthusiasts • Downhillers/freeriders
  22. 22. MARKET SEGMENTS TRAIL RIDERS • Skilled outdoor enthusiasts • Fit • Predominantly male • Members of pressure groups • Challenging rides • Rights of Way • Small segment
  23. 23. MARKET SEGMENTS SPORT RIDERS • Competitive cyclists • Involved in other cycle sports • Limited outdoor skills • Members of clubs • Fit, skilled riders • Mostly male • Small segment
  24. 24. MARKET SEGMENTS DOWNHILLERS/FREERIDERS • Small but growing segment • Mostly male 14 – 35 • Specific requirements • Difficult to manage • Unsanctioned trails
  25. 25. MARKET SEGMENTS ENTHUSIASTS • Recreational riders • Wide spectrum of ability and fitness • Limited outdoor skills • 30/70 male/female • Travel to ride • Want waymarked trails • Ride in groups • Largest segment
  26. 26. POTENTIAL FOR GROWTH ENTHUSIASTS • Most potential for growth • Potentially high volume • Potentially high value • Targeted trail products
  27. 27. POTENTIAL FOR GROWTH • Trail products for Enthusiasts limited in UK and Wales • Forestry Commission in best position to fill a gap in the market • Strategic decision to develop trail products for Enthusiasts • Plus support facilities
  28. 28. MOVING UP A GEAR • Cycling Wales Action Group (CWAG) • Partnership between key agencies and others • Development of FC MTB Wales strategy • Development of cycle tourism strategy for Wales • Adopted by Wales Tourist Board • FC strategy tied in to larger tourism strategy • Moving up a gear launched in 1999
  29. 29. MOVING UP A GEAR THE PARTNERS • Forestry Commission – trail development and management • Wales Tourist Board – strategic marketing resources • Welsh Development Agency – funding (capital) • Local authorities – funding (capital, revenue)
  30. 30. MOVING UP A GEAR THE STRATEGY • 5 short break destinations • Must reflect variety of landscapes and terrain • Must access different markets • Must lead to sustainable growth in the market
  31. 31. THE DESTINATIONS • Gwydyr • Coed y Brenin • Nant yr Arian • Afan Argoed • Cwm Carn
  32. 32. THE DESTIANTIONS GWYDYR FOREST • Well developed tourism infrastructure • Easy access for visitors from NW England • Existing unsanctioned MTB use • Forest park, timber production secondary • Day visit and short break destination • Major conflict issues • Mountainous and rocky • Snowdonia National Park • All new build trails • Numerous constraints
  33. 33. THE DESTIANTIONS COED Y BRENIN • Forest park • Visitor centre • Timber production secondary • Iconic status – high profile • Remote location • Primarily short break destination • Distinctive trail product • Marketing tool for whole product • Upgrade of existing trails • Some new build
  34. 34. THE DESTIANTIONS NANT YR ARIAN • Remote location • Visitor centre working under capacity • Local tourism industry in decline • Active timber production area • Access to extensive rights of way network • Short break destination • West midlands market
  35. 35. THE DESTIANTIONS CWM CARN • Urban fringe forest (Cardiff, Newport) • High levels of unsanctioned MTB use • Major conflict issues • North London 2 hours away • Primarily day visit but also short break
  36. 36. THE DESTIANTIONS AFAN VALLEY • Major timber production area • Existing unsanctioned MTB use • Very deprived local communities • Little or not tourism infrastructure • Huge forest • Showed greatest potential • Easy access to large markets
  37. 37. THE PRODUCT • Waymarked trails • Centred on visitor facilities • Consistent standards • Effective interpretation • Fun, accessible riding • An authentic experience • Lots of singletrack • Worth travelling to • Quality assured
  38. 38. THE PRODUCT • 300km of waymarked trails • Enough riding for 2 – 3 day visit • Prescribed loops • Flexible trail systems • Allows for longevity • On site bike washing • On site bike repair • On site bike hire • On site cafes and shops • ‘Joined up’ marketing
  39. 39. MARKETING • Mountain biking key component of WTB product marketing • WTB marketing campaign manger for Mountain Biking • CWAG liaison • Campaign print and on line based • Mountain Biking Wales brand • Brand running through all marketing materials • Marketing outputs monitored by WTB • Marketing resourced by WTB
  40. 40. MARKETING ON LINE • www.mbwales.com • Rider centred information • Trail maps • Pictures • Trail information • Feedback • News • On line registration • www.visitwales.com • accommodation • Bike friendly • On line booking
  41. 41. MARKETING PRINT • Individual trail guides • Mountain Biking Wales Brochure • Inserts in MTB magazines • Distributed at tourist offices, at trail centres and at shows
  42. 42. MARKETING PRESS AND PR • Press releases • Events • Editorial
  43. 43. OUTPUTS WHY ARE OUTPUTS IMPORTANT? • Condition of funding • Ensures future funding • Monitoring trends • Helps get the product right • Helps keep the product right
  44. 44. OUTPUTS MEASURING OUTPUTS • Calibrated electronic counters on trails • On site surveys to establish vehicle occupancy • Face to face surveys of visitors • FC statistics branch provided sampling models • FC statistics branch process data • FC present findings at regular CWAG meetings • Conversion of marketing data from WTB • WTB collate and present outputs to partners
  45. 45. OUTPUTS KEY OUTPUTS • Visitor numbers • Visitor trends • Visitor profiles • Visitor satisfaction • Visitor spend • Economic impact • Press and PR
  46. 46. VISITOR NUMBERS Marked increase at all sites Estimated 400,000 new visitors to Wales (in 2002)
  47. 47. VISITOR TRENDS • Initial sharp increase in visitor numbers • Growth has slowed but still growing • Repeat visits • Short break visitors over 80% • Most centres ‘stand alone’ destinations • Virtually year round season
  48. 48. VISITOR PROFILES • Majority from outside Wales • Majority high income • Majority urban based • 70:30 - male: female ratio • Many riders go nowhere else • Enthusiast core of market • Other segments also represented • Growing evidence of more local visitors • Growth in non mountain bike visitors at all sites
  49. 49. VISITOR SATISFACTION • 98% satisfaction with trails • 2% not satisfied with trails • Satisfaction centred on quality of singletrack and waymarking • 2% found trails either too difficult or too easy • 58% satisfied with trailhead facilities • 25% not satisfied with trailhead facilities • 17% not bothered either way
  50. 50. VISITOR SPEND On site spend – CYB • Car parking - £50,000 per year • Bike wash - £5,000 per year • Shop turnover - £70,000 per year • Café turnover - £130,000
  51. 51. VISITOR SPEND • WTB conversion figures from web based surveys • FC – site based surveys • Accommodation • Fuel • Food • Conservatively estimated £14 million in to Welsh economy • Shows that MTB tourism is high value and relatively high volume
  52. 52. PRESS AND PR • PR strategy part of development strategy • PR centrally handled by specialist agency • PR budget £12,000 for first year (including web site) • Gradual ‘drip feed’ during development • Launch of completed trails • Editorial • Specialist magazines • National newspapers • TV/radio • Estimated £590,000 worth of positive press and PR for FC • FC and communities – positive attitude to MTB • Created demand for more development
  53. 53. OTHER OUTPUTS • Training • Employment • partnerships
  54. 54. TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT • 47 people employed in trail construction • Majority previously unemployed • Training schemes set up with local authorities at each site • Trail teams received training • Chainsaw • Excavator driving • Dumper driving • NVQ – stone walling, fencing • Funding for training from WAG • All now in full time employment
  55. 55. PARTNERSHIPS • Community groups • Local authorities • WTB • Taking development on to the next stage • Ensuring local ownership • Ensures long term future
  56. 56. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT Sea change in FC recreation policy Recreation became central to FC’s business Much greater demand from communities and local authorities for recreation development The 7 Stanes Further development of the “Trail Centre” model UK now has the most developed MTB market in the world Enthusiasts central to that market Over 30 trail centres throughout the UK
  57. 57. AND FINALLY … Welsh MTB Initiative kick started trail development in the UK and beyond It took the development of CYB to make it happen The key was understanding the market and developing the right “product” And developing partnerships Wales is now an international MTB destination More importantly – local Welsh people are using their forests for recreation and reaping the benefits
  58. 58. The Power of Trails?!
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