First Minister shares hopes for ‘bumper year ahead’ in Welsh tourism sector

STAYCATIONS will hopefully bring a big boost to the tourism industry in North Wales, the First Minister says.

The Welsh Labour leader made his comments about the boost he hopes staycations will bring to the nation during a visit the Penderyn Distillery in Llandudno on Thursday.

When quizzed about the future of tourism in Wales, Mark Drakeford MS said: “I’m certainly hoping that there will be a bumper year ahead now for the tourism industry here in North Wales – and across the country.

“You’ll have heard me say time and time again to people that this is the year to have your holiday in Wales and enjoy all the fantastic things that are on offer on our doorsteps.”

He acknowledged that it has been “a torrid and really difficult year” for the tourism industry – but praised their “fantastic” efforts of adapting what they have been able to offer as public health conditions dictate.

Mr Drakeford added that people should remain cautious as coronavirus hasn’t gone away yet.

He continued: “We’re in a much better place in Wales but COVID hasn’t gone away. Concerns about new developments like the Indian variant remind us that we are not out of the woods completely just yet.

“I really do hope that those people that worked hard in the industry will find themselves with strong bookings going forward to showcase what we have to offer in Wales.”

Lesley Griffiths, who has taken on the minister for North Wales role following a cabinet reshuffle, joined Mr Drakeford on the visit.

In Llandudno, the pair admired the work inside the Grade II listed building that boasts a working distillery that produces a range of unique peated single malt whiskies.

Members of the public have been able to visit the site – when indoor attractions have been allowed to open – since June 1.

Speaking whilst on a visit in the region, the country’s leader said: “Penderyn is a big name. It’s a big Welsh success story – but based in South Wales primarily that had the vision to expand its presence in Wales and build on that success.

“We [Welsh Government] were very keen to support the company in having a North Wales face.

“The venue I’ve been to today – the school that has been reengineered to have a full working process of whiskey production and at the same time be able to open it up to people to come and see the history of the industry.

“They reckon there will be tens of thousands of visitors coming through the doors every year.

“Llandudno is a fantastic resort and we’ve been lucky today to enjoy it in the most beautiful weather. But, on those ‘rare’ days in Wales when the sun isn’t shining people need things to do indoors like this unique experience.

“I think this will soon establish itself as one of the must-do things when visiting Llandudno.”

The site, on Lloyd Street, was recently helped with a cash injection of £1.4m in Welsh Government funding as part of the ‘Tourism Investment Scheme and the Food Business Investment Scheme.

The plan was also backed by Conwy County Borough Council as part of its economic growth strategy for jobs and tourism in the seaside town.

During his travels in the region, Mr Drakeford also visited the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in north-east Wales, where he heard more about how the area was investing in a more sustainable future while also supporting the tourism industry.

Ms Griffiths added: “I’m pleased to have carried out my first visit as Minister for North Wales, and at such a great location. I’ll be working across the region to deal with the challenges we face as a result of the pandemic and looking to the future.

“I’m excited about all the new opportunities and developments to come for North Wales.”

North Wales Pioneer | Llandudno