The development of a Mountain Bike Trail Park that will elevate the Island’s outdoor tourism offering has been approved by the Economic Strategy Board. The Mountain Bike Trail Park will enhance 50km of existing trails and create 14km of new trails to connect seven plantations across the Isle of Man.
The project, which is divided into three phases, will enhance the Isle of Man’s proposition as an established cycling destination and increase the number of cycling leisure and event visitors to the Island each year, aligned to Visit Isle of Man’s objective to grow annual visitor numbers to 500,000 by 2032.
The project has been supported by the Economic Strategy Board and directly aligns to the ambitions of the Isle of Man Government’s Island Plan to develop comprehensive leisure infrastructure and ensure there are more activities and experiences available for visitors and residents.
Phase One, which will see the development of a total 64km of mountain biking trails and increased signage, has been approved following a feasibility study conducted by a local company dedicated to building and maintaining mountain bike trails in the Isle of Man. The feasibility study supported the initial decision for the need for a Mountain Bike Trail Park to accelerate the cycling offering on the Island in line with other jurisdictions and to compete with the best of what the UK has to offer. The next step will be to go to an open tender for the work involved in delivering Phase One.
Phase Two will support the development of a Visitor Centre consisting of cycle hire, bike shop, and recreation hub at South Barrule, which will go to market for privately funded proposals, whilst Phase Three is an ambition to secure private investment for a luxury glamping/lodge accommodation provision. The inclusion of new ‘non-serviced’ accommodation supports the Visitor Accommodation Transformation Programme laid out in Visit Isle of Man’s ten-year Visitor Economy Strategy, ‘Our Island, Our Future’. The provision for a feasibility study for Phase Three has been approved alongside the approval for Phase One.
Deborah Heather, CEO of Visit Isle of Man, commented:
‘Cycling tourism is a growth opportunity for the Island, and this Mountain Bike Trail Park is testament to our commitment to making the Isle of Man a recognised cycling destination. Whilst the current trails are numerous, covering 50km, they are not connected to one another, nor are they well sign-posted, meaning that currently they are only used by a small percentage of locals and are not readily accessible to either visitors or the wider local population. We believe this project will further diversify the Island’s tourism offering, attracting mountain biking enthusiasts, adventure seekers and nature lovers alike, as well as contributing to the economic and social development of the local community.
‘As a Biosphere nation it is important that this new park reflects our commitment to sustainability, and we can confirm that all of the new mountain bike trails identified in the study will be designed to create minimal environmental impact, whilst meeting the requirements of its users. They will also be built to a standard that makes them accessible for everyone, taking into consideration factors such as gradient, terrain, resting areas and parking availability, ensuring that they can be enjoyed by all in the same way.’
Tim Johnston MHK, Minister for Enterprise, also commented:
‘Investing in projects which enhance the vibrancy of the Island is a key pillar of the Economic Strategy, and will support our ambitions to both attract a younger, more diverse population, as well as the commitment to create an enhanced tourism offering which supports our Island all year round, and is a valued and growing part of our Island’s proposition for both visitors and residents alike.
‘The development of this Mountain Bike Trail Park will mark a significant milestone in Visit Isle of Man’s commitment to fostering outdoor recreation and boosting tourism, whilst also representing an excellent example of Government investing in initiatives that not only provide direct benefits, but also spawn business growth, private sector investment and the creation of jobs.’
Following the tender process, the work on the new Mountain Bike Trail Park is intended to commence in 2024, with completion in time for the 2025 season. Further details of the development will be shared in due course.