Environment Minister John Griffiths has visited Wales' newest Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) , to see how it is faring nearly a year after its gaining its new status.
The Minister was in the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB, which includes Llangollen, to meet members of the area’s Joint Advisory Committee and to be updated on how the area is progressing.
In November 2011 the Minister agreed that an area of approximately 230 square kilometres situated in the counties of Wrexham and Denbighshire would be made an AONB.
This resulted in the boundary of the existing Clwydian Range AONB being significantly extended.
Speaking ahead of his meeting, the Minister (pictured left) said: “Here in Wales we are blessed with an amazing natural environment. It is crucial to our economy and a big driver behind Wales’ thriving tourism industry.
"My decision nearly one year ago to approve the designation of this area as an AONB is proof of the Welsh Government’s commitment to managing the area as effectively and efficiently as possible in order to ensure the best and most sustainable outcomes for Wales.
“We are optimistic that the ‘AONB’ brand will bring in a significant number of new visitors to the area, to drive up tourism and to extend the enjoyment of the area’s natural beauty to a wider audience, but of course we are also mindful of the need to protect the area and to maintain its beauty.
“Today’s visit is an excellent opportunity for me to speak to the Joint Advisory Committee about how their management of the area is progressing.
"Both the Committee and I are committed to ensuring that the area delivers the very best outcomes for Wales, and that its beauty, varied landscapes and rich mix of wildlife and habitats are maintained.”
The outstanding landscape of the original Clwydian Range AONB is a major factor in attracting tourists to the area.
In 2006 rural Denbighshire enjoyed 1.58 million day visitors and 365,000 overnight visits.
Total revenue from tourism in Denbighshire is more than £91 million, with the rural visitor economy supporting 1,770 jobs.