BLOG Roisin Gwyon NWR Issue 113
The third cycle of West Wales’ inclusive tourism event took place on 9 March and aimed to present a more united force by raising awareness for inclusivity and highlighting new avenues for the upcoming tourist season. With our rolling green hills, national parks and breathtaking coastline, the rural landscape of West Wales offers an incredible range of opportunities in nature-based therapies, in addition to being naturally inclusive in its topography. Jim Bowen from Clynfyw Care Farm in Abercych introduced the event by sharing the farm’s ethos in providing accessible tourist cottages for all levels of physical mobility, without existing as simply a ‘disability centre’, but incorporating everyone into this market, worth a staggering £212 billion in the UK. These centres additionally function as excellent promoters of the education of local farming and food production, and indicate how our surrounding natural countryside aids wellbeing, trains locals in horticulture and preserves our organic environment.
In addition to offering tourists with limited physical abilities various activities in the countryside, the event also demonstrated how West Wales can help those suffering from mental health problems, such as through woodland activities and surf therapy, which aids the psychological recovery of war veterans. Jim Bowen stated that the natural soil serves as an anti-depressant, which thus shows how restorative and invigorating Welsh nature can be, as well as having great potential in boosting our local economy. Similarly, the Lluest Horse and Pony Trust, located in Llangadog, claims that working with abandoned and neglected horses helps curb anger issues as visitors are encouraged to control their energy and behaviour around these sensitive creatures. There are furthermore locations that offer green therapy, such as Kinora Drop-In Centre in Cardigan, which have their own allotment to grow produce. Many of us with lifestyles that are at times turbulent or chaotic could benefit from carrying out such meaningful tasks, and this particularly aids those who experience a sense of isolation in the community. As one volunteer stated, our connection to the land, what we eat and where we live shows us that we are part of something more than solely the concerns in our heads. The vision for the future presented by this event suggested how such collaborations with GPs, local health boards and natural health therapy could benefit us all - not only in West Wales but also further afield.
Promoting increased enjoyment via nature was also a tourism possibility elaborated by Hannah Buck, a policy officer based in Pembrokeshire. She demonstrated how our national parks not only protect the natural beauty of Wales, but additionally foster both economic and social wellbeing. From the 19th Century, national parks symbolise the antithesis of confinement and present a natural renewal via outdoor recreation. As discussed by local horticultural centres, this appreciation of nature illustrates how our parks are fundamental health assets. The ‘Walks for All Guide’ has thus been produced to promote fifteen routes across the Pembrokeshire National Park, and visitors can decide for themselves which is best suited to their level of physical ability and mobility. The area also provides beach wheelchairs available for hire to enjoy our beautiful coastline from up-close and dark sky discovery sites for star-gazing, as Wales offers one of the largest land spaces from which to admire in detail these celestial phenomena.
Inclusive tourism in West Wales clearly offers a myriad of opportunities in accommodation, nature-based activities and volunteering that remove the barriers for those with disabilities and additionally take advantage of our natural surrounding countryside. However both the physical and psychological benefits of such organisations can extend to us all. The landscape in our area acts as a form of spiritual renewal as it boosts our wellbeing and unity with the natural world: personal triumphs that parallel the growth of our local tourism economy.
Roisin Gwyon a writer that lives near Cardigan
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