First-year visitor numbers beat target at BikePark Wales in Merthyr
The UK’s first full-scale mountain bike park is celebrating a
successful first year, having welcomed over 66,000 visitors –
30,000 more than anticipated.
Since opening at Gethin Woods near Merthyr Tydfil last year,
BikePark Wales has also hosted two major tournaments: the 2013
Welsh Downhill Championships and the British Downhill Series in
BikePark Wales’ directors combined a Finance Wales loan
with funding from the Welsh Government including Visit Wales’
EU funded Sustainable Tourism project aimed at developing Cycling
Centres of Excellence in South Wales.
A successful first year has enabled BikePark Wales to repay part
of its loan early.
Experienced mountain biker and Managing Director, Martin Astley
is delighted with the park’s success and keen to build on its
“BikePark Wales was built by riders for riders to create the
ultimate riding experience. We offer lift-assisted trails for
all abilities from beginner to pro and this has helped boost our
visitor numbers. Our goal is to host more international
tournaments in Wales as BikePark Wales is one of only two UK sites
that could host a World Cup round.
“Last year’s success proved there is a real appetite for
mountain biking and we have some great plans for the next few
years, including more trails for local bikers. Finance Wales
saw the commercial potential of mountain biking and their backing
early on was crucial in helping us get our business off the
ground,” Astley explained.
The investment has already helped BikePark Wales create 20 full
and 8 part-time jobs. Uniquely, it employs a full-time
professional trail crew to maintain and develop its trails,
ensuring it builds its competitive edge.
Congratulating BikePark Wales on its success, Economy Minister,
Edwina Hart said: “I’m delighted that the Welsh Government has been
able to support the development of BikePark Wales through the
European Regional Development Fund and that this first year has
been such a success. BikePark is an iconic development
for Wales which is already raising the profile of South Wales
as a mountain biking and cycling destination.. I’d like to
congratulate both private and public sector partners on working
together to realise this vision, and wish the park every
success for future development.”
Investment Executive, Sam Macalister-Smith made Finance Wales’
loan to BikePark Wales. He said: “BikePark Wales’ experienced
management team are mountain-biking fanatics who understand the
sport both as riders and business owners. They’ve used their
expertise to transform Gethin Woods into a must-visit destination
for serious riders that’s quickly become part of the UK’s
“Combining their own capital with additional investment, they’ve
built a business that appeals to its market and thanks to their
vision has a great deal of potential for further
expansion. Added to this, BikePark Wales’ impact on the
local economy in Merthyr is also increasing.”
With investment staff based throughout Wales, Finance Wales
provides SMEs with a local service. Portfolio Executive,
Steve Elias has established a strong working relationship with the
BikePark Wales team, providing them with on-going support as they
build their business.
“BikePark Wales has benefitted from Finance Wales’ local
approach and we’ve built an excellent relationship with our
Portfolio Executive, Steve Elias. He has been available to
discuss business issues we’ve faced and this has been very valuable
for us,” Astley said.
With mountain biking one of the world’s fastest growing outdoor
activities, BikePark Wales was set up as a result of the Welsh
Government’s plan to increase cycling tourism. An estimated 2
million mountain bikes are now sold each year in the UK.
Finance Wales is keen to talk to more businesses in the Rhondda
Cynon Taf area about their funding needs. If you want to
discuss how a loan from Finance Wales could help your business
please call us on 0800 587 4140.