More than £100 million is being ploughed in to making North Wales an even more popular place to visit.
The record levels of private and public sector investment were revealed as preparations get underway for the biggest night in the region’s tourism calendar and at a time when new figures have shown the overall spend by visitors increased to an all-time high of £3,241 billion in 2018.
The statistics also show that North Wales out-performed all other parts of Wales in terms of the growth in the number of people coming to the region, with the total rocketing to nearly 30 million.
Tourism already employs more than 42,000 people across North Wales – which adds up to one in every seven jobs in the area.
Jim Jones, the managing director of North Wales Tourism, promised the fourth annual Go North Wales Tourism Awards would be bigger and better than ever.
The glittering Oscars-style ceremony is taking place on Thursday, November 14, at Venue Cymru in Llandudno which has undergone a massive £2.8 million makeover.
Shortlisted finalists will be contesting 15 categories including a new one for wedding venues.
The guest of honour will be Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport.
Well-known Heart radio presenters Lois Cernyw and Oli Kemp will jointly host the black-tie event. Lois is well known among S4C viewers for her work on children’s shows and strongman
According to Mr Jones, the boom in tourism in North Wales was creating a “virtuous circle”.
The increase in visitor numbers, he said, was giving operators the confidence to invest in infrastructure projects, with the adventure sector leading from the front.
Among the big spenders were Adventure Parc Snowdonia with £30 million of investment, another £20 million at Zip World and a £30 million redevelopment in the offing at Theatr Clwyd in Mold.
Mr Jones said:
“This is a golden era for tourism in North Wales and, while we must never ever rest on our laurels, we have a great deal to celebrate.
“Our aim is to recognise excellence in the region’s hospitality and tourism sectors and the awards will provide a showcase to honour the achievements, hard work and dedication of those working in the industry.
“This year we’ve got some new categories, including Wedding Venue of the Year because it’s a growing and increasingly prosperous part of the market.
“Hotels and other specialist venues ae are investing in their infrastructure and there are huge supply lines around these venues also – the photography, the florists and everything else.
“Importantly, 12 of our category winners will go forward to represent North Wales in the Welsh Government tourism awards in 2020 and we want to make sure that North Wales is well represented.
“The only people who struggle are the judges because the standard of entries just gets better and better every year.
“But having an abundance of brilliant entries is a great problem to have because it underlines the on-going, collective determination to make North Wales an even better place to come and visit.
“We are particularly grateful to our sponsors, including our headline sponsors Wales Cottages and the British Ironworks who are kindly providing the magnificent trophies that will be presented to the winners.
“It all bodes well for an even brighter future for the tourism and hospitality sector in North Wales.
“One of the elements that’s driving this growth is the region’s growing reputation as the European capital of adventure.
“There is nowhere else that has got what we have within such close proximity.
“We are seeing record levels of investment right across the board.
“Greenwood Park has got a big project in Felinheli, Zip World have launched new quarry karts and are set to unveil some brand new attractions while Adventure Parc Snowdonia are building a 106-bedroom hotel.
“Across in Flintshire there are £30 million plans to transform Theatr Clwyd in Mold, so there is a huge amount going on.
“On top of all of that we’ve got the the North Wales Growth Deal just around the corner which will mean even more investment and optimism for the future.”
Clive Knowles, the chairman of British Ironworks who are making the trophies, said:
“We are positioned in the most spectacular place, right on the doorstep of north and mid Wales which means we have a responsibility to ensure the visitors who are passing through are given the best information on where to visit, either on the way into Wales or on the way back, working in tandem with Go North Wales to provide the most accurate and up to date advice.”
“North Wales has been named by Lonely Planet as one of the top places in the world to visit in and it’s not hard to see why, we are so lucky to be sat at the gateway to this beautiful gem, we’re equally delighted to be involved which this prestigious event which promotes excellence in tourism in North Wales, something which benefits both the visitors and the businesses alike.”