AMBTIOUS plans to create a 16-mile walking and cycling path through the scenic Tywi Valley have been welcomed by tourism businesses in Carmarthenshire.
Local accommodation providers, food and drink establishments and tourist attraction operators attended an event at The Plough Inn in Rhosmaen, Llandeilo, organised by Carmarthenshire Tourism Association and Carmarthenshire County Council and funded through the Welsh Government’s Regional Tourism Engagement Fund.
The aim was for businesses to find out how they can benefit from the county’s expanding cycling market and make the most of the opportunities these large-scale cycling events bring to the area.
They had an update on the council’s cycling strategy which will soon be going out to consultation and heard from cycling industry experts including Matt Page who runs A Cycling and organises big cycling events in the county, Colin Porter from luggage transfer service company Walkalongway and Paul Smith who runs cycle-hire business Towy Valley Cycles.
They also had a presentation on the proposed multi-million-pound Tywi Valley Path which will follow an almost adjacent route to that of the River Tywi, linking in with major tourist attractions between Carmarthen and Llandeilo.
It is estimated the project could attract 15,000 visitors a year, generating between £860,000 and £2million in the local economy and create and support up to 41 full-time jobs.
Former pro cyclist Matt Page said he was very supportive of the project: “I think it is going to bring cycling to a different type of people, the hard-core road cyclist won’t use it, but it will be perfect for families and it will also show people the fantastic countryside we have got, which is great.”
Christoph Fischer, organiser of Hwyl Llandeilo Litfest, said: “I think it is fantastic, I am a keen cyclist and this ticks all the boxes. Some people do not want to cycle on the roads, so this will cater for them. I think it will attract more people to come here on cycling holidays and show them how beautiful the Tywi Valley is, it is a great way of seeing it.”
George Rashbrook, who runs the Forest Arms in Brechfa, described it as “not just a cycle path” but “route to discovery”. He said: “I think it is awesome and not just for cyclists. It will educate people about the landscape, the history of the route, the wildlife, the possibilities are endless.”
The path is being developed in phases and initial works have already taken place near the concrete works in Abergwili. Negotiations with landowners are ongoing, and various grant applications are being prepared / submitted.
Executive Board Member for the Environment Cllr Hazel Evans added: “It was great to see so many people at the event who were very positive about the project and could see the opportunities it could bring. We believe it will provide a huge boost for tourism in the area linking the tourist attractions along the route as well as local cafes, pubs and restaurants not to mention the accommodation providers and how they can add value to their business.
“Carmarthenshire wishes to become the cycling capital of Wales and the Tywi Valley Path is just one of a number of projects the council is working on; the refurbishment of the velodrome at Carmarthen Park is well underway and we have just recently allocated £500,000 from our capital programme to build a new closed road cycling circuit at Pembrey Country Park.”