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Deputy Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Elis-Thomas has kick-started Year of Discovery 2019 with visits to new tourism experiences in west Wales.

First published:
8 January 2019
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

This fourth themed year will give people compelling reasons to visit Wales while being encouraged to rediscover Wales and find something new about Wales and about themselves.
The Deputy Minister, said: 

“By coming together and working in partnership, our themed years have given Wales a strong voice – in a very competitive marketplace. We know that our themed year campaigns are generating over £350m a year for the economy.

“Wales’ strengths are adventure, culture and the outdoors, and the aim of our themed years is to reinforce these strengths – we will return to these themes time and again, to ensure that we have clear and consistent messages about what Wales has to offer. This will be more important than ever as we work to adapt to the challenges and opportunities ahead.

“In 2019 we want to encourage our visitors to discover Wales anew, to discover new parts of Wales and to try out enriching outdoor, adventure and cultural experiences across the country. We’ve had a great start to the year with the Sunday Times Magazine choosing Wales as one of the rising stars of 2019, alongside places such as Morocco and Iceland, Georgia, Portugal, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Croatia, and South Africa.

“Wales is full of hidden corners; as well as world-class attractions, and these projects which I’ve seen  are an excellent way for people to discover more about Wales, find a hidden corner and try out a new experience.”

The Minister visited the team at fforest, Cilgerran who are celebrating 12 years since starting the business. The team have recently revealed a new project for 2019, in collaboration with The Representative Body of the Church in Wales, which has been supported through the Welsh Government’s Tourism Product Innovation Fund.

The SpiritCymru project will create a network of discovery, connecting chapels and churches in west Wales through unique cycle touring journeys and overnight stays in remote historic church and chapel buildings - which provide a window of discovery to the rural communities and small legends of Wales.  

James Lynch, fforest, said: 

“We know that there are some 800 chapels and churches in the rural and coastal communities of Wales – many of which are facing an uncertain future. SpiritCymru will celebrate and promote the heritage values of these beautiful buildings and provide a new sustainable model for continued community engagement and use.”

Alex Glanville, Head of Property Services at the Church in Wales, said: 

“This is an exciting opportunity to work in partnership with fforest to find a new, innovative purpose for churches that have been closed. These buildings remain special places which will find a new audience through SpiritCymru.”

The unique sleeping pods are an installation, not a conversion. Comfortable, self-contained, rooms based on a Japanese / Scandinavian concept and designed for cyclists’ needs, warmth and comfort at the end of a long day of adventure. Journeys will begin and end at fforest in Cilgerran with bookings being taken from the Autumn.

The Minister also visited another new venture in Ceredigion. Ty Cwch, Cwmtydu is the first accommodation in Wales for outdoor activities made entirely from refashioned shipping containers. For Year of Discovery, Ty Cwch will work with local outdoor activities instructors offering tailored discovery courses in the Spring. This innovative accommodation has a Visit Wales quality assured glamping accreditation. Further information available on

Nigel Humphrey, Ty Cwch, said: 

“A Year of Discovery is a very appropriate theme with the growing popularity of outdoor activities. This might be for groups or families who want organised activities or merely to get away from it all and enjoy the great countryside. The Welsh coast is highly suited to both. Working with our partner ICY UK we are looking forward to putting on discovery courses next year.”  

A multi-media international campaign on the theme of discovery will run throughout 2019. The campaign is on digital, television, on on-demand platforms, and in key travel hubs from January here in Wales - with the main marketing push across the rest of the UK taking place in March around the key holiday booking times. The emphasis is on encouraging everyone to find their own experience in Wales and sharing on social media.