The tourism industry of Monmouthshire and Newport in South Wales came together in one of the most beautiful parts of Britain this week. The Georgian Shire Hall in Monmouth was the venue for a group travel day in the lower reaches of the beautiful Wye Valley, with an emphasis on a unique and undeniably picturesque new trail for visitors.

The event was arranged by Visit Monmouthshire with funding from the Welsh Government Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014–2020, and coordinated by UK travel trade specialists Steve Reed Tourism Ltd. The day focused on the opportunities of the group visitor market for this part of Wales, and a new coach itinerary was launched at the event to celebrate the 250-year anniversary in 2020 of William Gilpin’s boat tour down the River Wye in 1770, an event that heralded the birth of British tourism, see

Gilpin was a pioneer of the ‘Picturesque’ and his ideas led to the concepts of landscape appreciation and conservation, culminating in the designation of protected landscapes such as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), including The Wye Valley AONB which was designated in 1971.

The group explored the changing coach and group travel scene in the UK as well as new and innovative ways to attract coach parties. Businesses included attractions such as Tredegar House, Caldicot Castle, White Castle Vineyard, Nant Y Bedd Gardens, and Abbey Mill in Tintern; and hotels such as the Holiday Inn, Newport. The group received a presentation from Phil Coates (Professional Blue Badge Tourist Guide) on the new Wye Tour coach itinerary, and they met Hereford-based tour operator Liz Hill of the successful Rural Concierge business.

“Group travel is an important market for the area and the new Wye Tour coach itinerary will help reinforce the appeal of our area to tour planners,” says Nicola Edwards, Destination Manager for Monmouthshire. “Groups already love coming to this area and we now want visitors to experience exactly what William Gilpin wrote about all those years ago in the world’s first travel guide ‘Observations on the River Wye”. 

The Welsh Government Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014–2020 is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, and the Welsh Government.

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