Wales is set to become the first country in the world to have a formal trail all the way around its coast.

The 1,368km (850-mile) All Wales Coastal path aims to improve access to the coastline and encourage people to live healthier and more active lifestyles.

It is also expected to boost tourism and economic activity in coastal locations around the country.

The path has already received public recognition with Coastal Wales being acknowledged as the world’s top destination to visit in 2012 by Lonely Planet, the travel guide experts.

The Wales Coast Path has been developed by the Welsh Government in partnership with the Countryside Council for Wales, 16 local authorities and two National Parks providing approximately £2million funding every year.

The European Regional Development Fund has allocated nearly £4 million over four years.

Improvements to the quality and alignment of the route will continue during 2012 and 2013 to ensure the path follows the Welsh coastline as close as it is safe and practical.

Environment Minister Jane Davidson joined local school children and ramblers on the Gower recently to officially open a new path along the Gower peninsula.

This 16 mile stretch of the Wales Coast Path provides a scenic link for walkers travelling from Llanmadoc to Port Eynon.

The route takes in Rhossili beach, voted one of the best beaches in the UK, and passes both the iconic Worm’s Head and the cave where the Red Lady of Paviland was discovered.

The section involved seven legal diversions of public footpaths, the creation of 1.2 miles of new public footpath, 13 gates, 41 signposts and waymark posts, and 22 steps cut out of solid rock.

The Minister said: "We’re trying to create a fantastic experience here in Wales that will really attract many, many foreign visitors as well as everybody in every home in Wales."