A tourism boss says the awarding of world heritage status to the slate landscape of North West Wales will provide a big economic boost for the region for many years to come.
Jim Jones, the chief executive of North Wales Tourism, was thrilled after news of the global recognition was confirmed.
The area now ranks alongside sites like Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu in Peru, and the Grand Canyon in the US – not to mention the castles of King Edward I in North Wales and the Poncysyllte Aqueduct near Llangollen.
According to Mr Jones, North Wales now has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites per square mile than anywhere on the planet.
The news came just days after it was revealed that Liverpool’s iconic waterfront had been stripped of the accolade because UNESCO believe it has been ruined by inappropriate developments which have spoiled the vista.
The area, which rose to prominence as a supplier of slate in the 18th century as a result of the industrial revolution, is said to have roofed the world.
It served international demand for Welsh slate between 1780 and 1940, with Gwynedd also home to major developments in quarrying and stone processing.
By the late 19th century, the industry was employing more than 17,000 people and producing almost 500,000 tonnes of slate a year, providing around a third of all roofing slate used in the world at the time.
Among the buildings roofed with Welsh slate are London’s Houses of Parliament, the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, Australia, and Copenhagen city hall in Denmark. In 1830, half the buildings in New York had roofs made of Welsh slate.
Jim Jones said:
“I would like to pay tribute to the team behind the bid, who have been working so hard on this for 15 years.
“This global accolade is brilliant news for North Wales, especially the slate industry of North West Wales and will provide many economic benefits for many years to come.
“This is fantastic recognition for our heritage, celebrating the magnificent and breath taking historic landscapes.
“North Wales already had so much to offer and this is something else for us to shout from the rooftops about.
“I hope everyone embraces the status and continue to tell the stories to our children and young people, about how this important part of the slate industry has played to our heritage.
“This status will complement our marketing message about how special North Wales is, as a place to. live, work and visit.”
Christopher Catling, Secretary of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, whose staff helped to compile the nomination document, said:
“Human muscle and ingenuity have left us with a remarkable landscape combining natural and man-made features that are fully worthy of being included in the top tier of all heritage sites in the world.”
David Anderson, director general at the Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum Wales said the designation would allow Wales’ diverse heritage to be shared on a worldwide stage.
“Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales is very proud to have been a key partner in this bid and is delighted at the successful designation of the slate landscape of northwest Wales as a World Heritage site,” he said.
“Its success will ensure that the impact of the culture and industrial heritage of the area – including the story of the slate industry which we tell at the National Slate Museum in Llanberis – is recognised throughout the world.
“We have a rich and diverse heritage in Wales and this is a great opportunity to celebrate and showcase our cultural heritage on an international stage and will help preserve the legacy and history in communities for generations to come.
“Congratulations to all those who have worked so hard on this bid – today’s announcement is a credit to all those involved.”