North Wales has experienced a record-breaking summer for visitor numbers, the region’s tourism association says.


The chairman of North Wales Tourism, Chris Frost, said the number of day trips and overnight stays is up, with people booking for longer than usual.


One tourism site said it was the most popular UK holiday destination this summer, overtaking Devon and Cornwall for the first time.


It comes as some rules for travelling abroad remain in Wales.


Mr Frost said: “I’ve been in business here for 20 years and there’s been an exponential growth in tourism over the last 10 years.


“We’ve never seen such high visitor numbers, which is great post-Covid.


“They feel very safe, there’s lots of room outdoors in lots of places, although we do have bottlenecks and the honey pot locations, people are searching to find quiet places off the beaten track, so instead of visiting Snowdon, going to one of the mountains in the Vale of Clwyd.”


He said some businesses were experiencing staff shortages partly due to Covid and also because some EU national employees have returned to their home countries.


But the industry is busy and visitors are being patient as companies adapt to the large numbers, he said.


He added the area was benefitting from people who have opted to holiday in the UK, with foreign travel being restricted, while the key to sustaining the industry is to encourage people to visit all year round and not just in the summer.


Nick Jackson, chief executive of the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay, Conwy, said: “We have an air of cautious optimism at the moment. Let’s not forget, we lost Easter, but once we reopened our attendance figures have been really excellent, we can’t complain at all.


“It’s enabling us to claw back some of that finance we lost over the last 18 months.


“The figures we’re comparing at the moment, we’re looking at 2019 and there is a definite trend, we can see people coming who almost certainly would have gone abroad.


“Some of the animals aren’t bothered and don’t know the difference, but the animals that take part in feeding sessions like the sea lions, the primates, the apes and monkeys and chimpanzees, they are all aware of visitors and we consider them part of their enrichment so we’re over the moon.”


Recent developments like adventure tourism and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! being broadcast from Gwrych Castle in Abergele have also played a part.


Mr Frost said: “A lot of people may have visited north Wales in their youth and it’s a very different experience now to what it was 20 years ago.


“I think we will retain many of these customers coming this season for next season, when we’ll also hopefully have international travellers who we’ve not had this year, and even without them it’s been extremely successful economically.”


Catherine Hummel, co-owner of Riverside Camping near Caernarfon, Gwynedd, told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast responsibility now lies with businesses to keep people safe.


“We don’t believe it’s the year to cram people into the rafters, so we’re running at half occupancy until the end of summer. I’m turning people away but we’re just not comfortable yet.


“We do feel very fortunate that we’re in a better place than last year.”


But she said the lower numbers meant more time to chat and get to know the customers.


Paula Ellis, chair of South West Wales Tourism, and group general manager at Twr y Felin Hotel, Roch Castle and Penrhiw Priory, said business is not just booming in north Wales.


“We’re selling almost every room every night and for the region, we’re just trying to cope as best we can with demand.


“They’re replacing the international visitors we’ve missed this summer.”


But Ms Ellis added the damage caused by the pandemic has not yet been resolved.


She said: “We’re not out of the woods yet, we’ve got a long way to go… We still need to keep the revenue coming for many years to come to make up for what we’ve lost.”


“We’ve had the highest skills gap humanity has ever known in our industry, Covid has really highlighted how precarious hospitality is, so many people have chosen to move into an alternative occupation.”

Story Courtesy BBC News Wales