Fishing tourism in Wales is to get a boost with the development of a new course to train specialist angling guides.

As part of the Welsh Assembly Government successful Fishing Wales initiative, the Environment Agency and Visit Wales have joined forces with Medrwn, the tourism training programme in mid Wales, to develop a course to enable individuals to become recognised angling guides.

Environment, Planning and Countryside Minister Carwyn Jones said: “Angling tourism is estimated to be worth more than £100m to the Welsh economy every year, and particularly benefits rural areas.

“This training course is a great opportunity for angling clubs and individuals to improve the level of service the can offer to visiting anglers and further enhance Wales’ reputation as a tourist destination. I look forward to the programme being rolled out across Wales.”

Rhys Llywelyn of the Environment Agency said: “Anglers now travel from all four corners of the earth to sample the angling delights that Wales has to offer, and a clear demand for a service of this type has come from their midst.

“Come the spring and new season, we shall be in a position to offer not only fishing of the finest quality, but also a guiding service specifically designed to allow the visiting angler to make the most of their precious hours on the water.

“The course is being run by the Welsh Academy of Field Science and is open to experienced, proficient anglers and will concentrate on developing hospitality and communication skills, together with elements of First Aid and risk assessment. The course will also address the importance of e-marketing and the use of electronic communication so they can provide an efficient, comprehensive service to the customer.”

Gwawr Price from Medrwn is equally enthusiastic about the merits of a guiding service: “This is an excellent opportunity to develop the element of ‘added value’ for the angling tourism industry. Developing skills to provide a guiding service will certainly be of value to the individual and, in the longer term, advantageous to all the businesses and individuals who serve the visiting angler.”

The course will be delivered by Gilydd, the Welsh Academy of Field Science. Chairman of Gilydd Richard Garner Williams said: “We are extremely pleased to be presenting this very special course. In the knowledge that, historically, the Welsh word gilydd shares a common meaning with the Gaelic ghillie, it is particularly relevant that we should be connected with this venture and are confident that angling tourism in Wales will further profit from the service of acknowledge guides or gilydds.”

Fishing Wales forms part of the Welsh Assembly Government-funded Sustainable Fisheries Programme that is managed by the Environment Agency. The aims of the programme include environmental improvements, encouragement of participation and development of angling tourism.

The first three-day course takes place from 23-25 February 2007 at the headquarters of Powys Training in Machynlleth. Applications for the initial course are restricted to residents of Ceredigion or Meirionydd.

Further information can be obtained from Rhys Llywelyn, Fishing Marketing and Training Officer on 07768 026 901