Lights, camera, action
TV and film is big business in Wales. Lucasfilm and NBC Universal choose Wales as a base for blockbusters because of the talented people, diverse landscapes and bespoke production support packages on offer. The Cardiff Capital Region produces more content and recruits more jobs in the media sector than any other area in the UK i.e. outside of London and Manchester. With three national broadcasters and a host of independent production companies, Wales is a major player in the media industry.
From filming locations to dramatic event backdrops
The beautiful and dramatic expansive landscapes of Wales are often a reason for business events choosing Wales as their preferred destination.
This is echoed with large filming production companies choosing Wales as a first and repeat choice of destination for filming locations. Mid Wales offered an atmospheric backdrop for BBC Wales’ Hinterland production, while Carmarthenshire became the scene of a super fan trail after Laugharne and the surrounding areas were used in another BBC Celtic Noir thriller, Keeping Faith.
Meanwhile across South Wales, quaint towns to vibrant cities, magnificent castles to woodland forests appear in Doctor Who episodes and now becoming popular trails and tours in Wales.
Wrexham city has been the focus of the new Disney Documentary about the takeover of Wrexham Football Club and who can forget the classic film Clash of the Titans which features Dinorwic Slate, part of the World Heritage site in Gwynedd.
Businesses are being creative with spaces. Zip World has redeveloped the disused slate and quarry mines into world leading attractions, with the world's fastest zip line, forest tree top coasters and quarry carts, whilst the Centre for Alternative Technology set in the heart of the Dyfi Biosphere in Mid Wales, is a world renowned eco centre and leading attraction in sustainability, educating both local communities and visitors on sustainable living and development of sustainable products. The attraction also boasts a water balanced railway to transfer visitors to the visitor centre from the entrance and is one of the steepest railways in the world.
And in the creative events space, good things come in small and large packages in Wales. From the indie music scene producing the likes of city-based Sŵn Festival to Green Man Festival, a 25,000 capacity week-long event held yearly in the countryside near Crickhowell, South Wales.
All of these creative businesses are not just creating jobs for local future generations but also generating tourism and long term economic benefits to the local and wider communities and leaving a positive legacy for Wales.
What this all means, according to Professor Sara Pepper, Director of Creative Economy at Cardiff University, is that when it comes to hosting an event here, you’ll be supported from both an infrastructure and a people perspective. As part of her role leading media and growth initiatives such as Media Cymru and Clwstwr, Sara has hosted business events at venues as varied as the 2,000-year-old fortress of Cardiff Castle and at National Museum Cardiff, which houses dinosaur bones alongside some Renoir and Monet art. What does she hear back from people attending?
Sara Pepper, Director of Creative Economy, Cardiff University
The growth of the creative sector in Wales means there’s a good supply of talented and skilled individuals who really understand live events and can deliver them with absolute attention to detail and panache, giving a flavour in - and of Wales. Firstly people are surprised by the variety and scale of what we can offer here. But mainly it’s the warmth and generosity and the welcome. And that is a cultural trait, that’s inherent and it’s what makes Wales special. There’s something about that warm Welsh welcome."
Creative cultural tourism experiences
As in tourism, more and more business delegates are looking for the personal experience of learning and development through cultural experiences when they visit a destination. Whether that’s a mountain top wellbeing retreat, a behind the scenes tour of the Principality Stadium with a Lions legend, canyoning in the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park with Call of the Wild, or packrafting in Eryri (Snowdonia National Park) with Adventure Tours UK, Wales can serve up a rich and authentic cultural twist on any business event.
Sian Roberts is the owner and founder of Loving Welsh Food, a food tours company based in Cardiff. One of her walking tours begins with a warm Welsh cake before a trip to superstar footballer Gareth Bale’s pub for a Bale Ale and eating Welsh delicacy laverbread and cockles in Cardiff market. Another shuttles visitors to Meadow View or Whitecastle vineyards to try Welsh wine.
Sian says the value of a cultural experience like a food tour for businesspeople coming to Wales is that, for people short on time, it provides a compact behind-the-scenes look into life in that country:
Sian Roberts, Loving Welsh Food
You get to know the city by walking around, you get to visit the little-known gems that only locals know about and you order foods that you wouldn’t necessarily have gone for on your own.”
For Sian, the idea of the food tours is not just about the food and drink but to showcase all that’s good about Wales, including the stunning backdrops. Sara Pepper points out that part of the reason behind the success of the film industry here, is the sheer diversity of landscapes that this small country can offer. But the stunning rural locations of Aberystwyth and the Cambrian Mountains used in major TV shows like Hinterland double just as easily as the playground for a wellbeing incentive or for a creative retreat.
Sara Pepper, Director of Creative Economy, Cardiff University
The truth about business events is that you need to get the business done, so you need to have what you need to make that so. There’s something here about the quality of interactions and the experiences that we have while doing business. We can offer an experience here where you get the business done, but you get it done well, because you get the added value of learning about somewhere different and understanding our world a bit differently."