Wales has always offered a strong tourist offer, and its rugged scenery can also provide a dramatic backdrop for the business visitor.
The Principality also offers research, innovation and expertise in fields such as science, medicine and ICT.
National tourism board Visit Wales has undertaken a major review of the businesses events market and a new strategy is being developed to attract more business events from both UK and international markets.
The Vale Resort near Cardiff, close to Junction 34 of the M4 regularly hosts conferences and meetings and its facilities can host up to 700 delegates.
The 400-year-old Hensol Castle, located at the resort, has undergone a £10m revamp, which included introducing conference facilities in the new Courtyard Hall, capable of hosting up to 320 delegates.
There are two championship golf courses and Wales’ largest spa. The Vale also has seven rugby/football pitches.
The Celtic Manor Resort
Near to Newport sits The Celtic Manor Resort which can host conventions for up to 1,200. It features an historic 19th-century manor house and a golf club.
Work is due to begin next year on the new £60m Wales International Convention Centre at the site and the owners are building on the publicity gained through hosting the 2014 NATO Summit.
Principality Stadium: (formerly the Millennium Stadium) offers 112 hospitality suites and five lounges and was the venue for this year’s BioWales life sciences showcase, 1-2 March. The event attracted 700 delegates, including 100 international visitors and 50 SMEs.
Working with Cardiff-based Orchard Media and Events Group, the Welsh Government event showcased the sector to a national and international audience of industrialists and academics. BioWales also gave Welsh companies access to new networks and markets.
Mercure Holland House Hotel: The Calon Suite in Mercure Holland House hotel is Cardiff’s largest hotel meeting and banqueting space.
Cardiff Collection: Cardiff Collection brings Cardiff Castle, Cardiff City Hall and Cardiff Mansion House together as unique city venues for small and medium meetings and events.
Village Hotel, Cardiff: This venue has seen a complete bedroom and public space refurbishment, at a cost of £3.5m.
Cardiff will host the final of the UEFA Champions League in 2017, the first time the event will be hosted in Wales. The final will be held in the Principality Stadium and will be the biggest sporting event to have ever been staged in Wales. It will be watched by a global TV audience of 200m and deliver an economic benefit of up to £45m for the region.
Cardiff will also host the first Volvo Ocean Race transatlantic leg to the UK in 12 years, when the race makes its debut visit to Wales in 2018.
Llandudno & North Wales
The Venue Cymru
With spectacular views out to sea, Venue Cymru offers 7,000sqm of exhibition and conference space, as well as banqueting for up to 1,000 people,
Both Manchester and Liverpool are one hour’s drive away and direct trains run from Llandudno Junction to London Euston in just over three hours.
The town’s Imperial Hotel offers seven conferencing suites and can accommodate 150 guests.
There is adventure close to Llandudno, where Snowdonia offers Zip World, a chance for delegates to fly head-first exceeding speeds of 100 mph down a mountain.
Bay Campus Swansea
The new £450m Bay Campus, part of Swansea University, is located off the M4 motorway on the eastern approach into Swansea. The facility has a private beach.
Bay Campus was officially opened on 4 July by HRH The Prince of Wales and boasts the £32m Great Hall conference facility. It holds the 700-seat Sir Stanley Clarke Auditorium and three lecture theatres.
Summer saw several major conferences at the facility, including:
- The International Conference on Hybrid and Organic Photovoltaics
- The British Science Festival Gala Dinner
- The Contemporary Arts Society Annual Conference
- The International Population Linkage Data Conference
And last month Swansea University played host to Europe’s longest-standing science event, The British Science Festival involving 20,000 people.
Denbighshire County Council has been successful in securing £3.5m of funding from Welsh Government towards the Rhyl waterfront redevelopment, a scheme that will include a Cultural & Hospitality Zone – refurbishment of the Pavilion Theatre and construction of a new hotel.