The Valleys Regional Park

Parc Rhanbarthol y Cymoedd

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The Valleys ‘Heart & Soul’ Campaign

The Valleys ‘Heart & Soul’ campaign was jointly developed by the Valleys Regional Park partnership in conjunction with the Heads of the Valleys and Western Valleys Regeneration programmes.The aim was to develop and maintain a consistent high-quality approach to tourism.

The campaign has led to the development and rolling out of ‘The Valleys’, as a brand to both internal and external markets, development of a Valleys events strategy, creation of a destination management system, and promotion of best practice principles across the region.

Outputs and Outcomes

Outputs from Phase One (2010 – 2012) of the campaign included:

 A high quality tourism website ( launched in January 2010 to showcase The Valleys, identifying leisure opportunities and particularly those developed by the VRP partnership. The website included a section dedicated to the ‘Top 50 Valleys Essentials’, which presents the top ten action and adventure, castles and sights, mining and museums, sites to ‘sip and scoff’ and ‘walks and drives’, as voted by 4,500 people living in the Valleys. The list was originally presented in the ‘Rough Guide to Wales’ by Mike Parker. By 2012 the site has received over 175,000 visitors, making it comparable with other key tourist regions websites

 The production and distribution of 115,000 holiday guides in the two-year project period.

 Development of an iPhone app and Twitter, YouTube and Facebook sites.

 A new Geocaching trail has been promoted by ‘Heart & Soul’ as a ‘Top Valleys Essential’ which connects enthusiasts to a global network of geocaching.

 A PR strategy spread across print and broadcast media including The Guardian, The Express, Radio 4, Radio 1, Sunday Mirror, Western Mail, Echo, BBC News, Wedi 7 and all Valleys local papers. In total 248 pieces of print coverage, 135 online articles and 44 broadcast pieces were produced.

 Development of relationships with local and national businesses including the Principality Bank, Only Men Aloud, Cardiff and Swansea City FC, Sustrans, Capital and Real Radio.

 National recognition for the ‘Heart & Soul’ campaign, and eight independent PR and marketing awards including a Chartered Institute of Marketing Award for Wales and seven from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Awards.

Phase 2 (November 2012 – March 2014) has been in operation with a redefined focus on marketing the valleys to potential visitors from the M4 and M5 corridors in England and Wales with a newly redesigned tourism website – which went live in December 2013. The latest statistics (available August 2014) showed that 168,000 sessions have taken place, exploring 342,000 page-views across 145,872 users. 14% of these users have been repeat users whilst the rest have been new users.

The average length of time spent on the site was 1.22 minutes. One important detail from usage statistics is that while majority of people visited the homepage, the next highest number of visits (over 30,000) were to the places to stay section; with visits to material on what’s on and exploring the valleys was visited less (circa. 19,000 and 11,500 respectively).

In addition to the website:

o Over 20 million impressions of adverts about The Valleys leading to almost

o 41,000 clicks.

o 460 radio adverts across South Wales at key times featuring attractions and activities across The Valleys – as ideas of what to do each weekend.

o 140,000 leaflets with ideas for activities and places to visit across The Valleys distributed to potential visitors across South Wales.

o 10 Valleys features written and published

o 8 press releases issued

o Significant numbers of referrals, for example from Google Ads (70,400) and other systems

o 16 press trips organised and hosted

o 90+ journalists phoned/emailed personally

o 50+ individual pitches made to journalists in response to journalist alerts

o 37 pieces of destination coverage were published on and offline with an estimated circulation of over 25 million.

o 86,000 people received a newsletter; around 17,000 of which opened it

o 1 television feature was produced

o 1 reader competition

o £250,000 AVE (approximately) for offline coverage was generated

o A significant volume of engagement since November 2012 through social media, summarised

In terms of visitor numbers, draft STEAM figures showed a significant 9% drop in the number of Day Visitors across the Valleys Regional Park. However, the number of Tourist Days has remained stable, indicating that those who do come have stayed longer. Moreover, there has been a steady increase in Staying Visitors – in serviced and non-serviced accommodation, as well as Staying with Friends and Relatives (SFR).

As a result of this, the revenue generated across the Visitor Economy has continued to increase and the numbers employed directly and indirectly in the sector remained stable.

Feedback from Visitors to the Valleys: Results of visitor surveys

According to the results of 725 face to face surveys, undertaken as part of the Visit Wales Visitor Survey 2013, overall trip satisfaction for visitors to the valleys was ranked at an average of 9.3 out of 10. This is considered “a very high level of satisfaction, and it is the same result as in the Wales Visitor Survey overall”. Most (80%) of staying visitor from the UK report they will ‘definitely’ make another visit to / within Wales in the next few years, including 77% of staying visitors coming from England. Other relevant results from the survey were that:

o  Visitors had undertaken a wide range of activities: 24% using the country/forest parks, 21% shopping and 20% visiting industrial heritage attraction

o  The “Quality of the natural environment” generated an average Satisfaction level of 9.4 (out of 10).

o  77% of respondents ‘strongly agree’ that ‘The Valleys are a green landscape, great for walking and cycling’

o 68% of respondents ‘strongly agree’ that ‘The residents of The Valleys welcome visitors’

o The most significant negative perception associated with The Valleys is as a place of deprivation.