Monday, 29 November 2010

Making sure Ynys Môn benefits from the Royal tourism boost

Bring them home: the Llyn Cerrig Bach treasures represent
some of the finest Celtic Iron Age implements ever
found in Europe.  (Image: National Museum of Wales) 
As I'm sure all readers are aware, a certain Fl Lt Wales, a pilot based at RAF Valley, announced plans to marry long term girlfriend Kate Middleton on April 29, 2011. Following that they intend to continue living on the island until he completes his stint at Valley. Obviously this is fantastic news for Ynys Môn as it will likely result in a significant boost in the number tourists and visitors coming to the Island from all over the World. Accounting for approximately £215 million per annum, tourism is becoming an increasingly important part of the Anglesey economy and we have to make sure that we are able to use the Island's royal connections to our best advantage.

Anglesey has been blessed with fantastic scenery and views, over 120 miles of coastline, and some remarkable heritage sites -- however despite this it has long been apparent that the Island has punched below its weight in terms of attracting visitors. We now have a short window of opportunity whilst Prince William is on the island to try to address these issues, and below is a list of things I will personally be pushing for:

  • Anglesey County Council currently runs a number of visitor attractions on the Island, including the Holyhead Breakwater Country Park, Melin Llynnon, Beaumaris Gaol and Courthouse, Moelfre Seawatch Centre, and the South Stack Lighthouse. However, earlier this year the council announced plans to review whether it would continue to manage them citing, "the cost of running these sites is more than the income they generate". In my opinion, this is a very short sighted policy considering the expected Royal visitor boost over the next few years. The council is in danger of shooting the island's long-term economic development goals in the foot for the sake of short-term savings, and accordingly I believe the council should urgently review this policy.
  • One of the few things which most people know about Anglesey is that it was once the home of the mystical celtic priestly class, the Druids (real ones, not blogging impostors like me). When you consider this is the era of Harry Potter and magic, it has always seemed odd to me that there is not a single tourist attraction on Anglesey to celebrate and inform regarding this unique part of our history. To this end I intend to campaign for the permanent return of the Llyn Cerrig Bach treasures from the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff and have them put on permanent display here in Anglesey.
  • Many visitors have told me that one of their frustrations about visiting Anglesey is that there is nowhere they can sit, for example, by the Menai Straits and have a good lunch or dinner whilst enjoying the incredible views. The scenery on Anglesey looking across to Snowdonia is one of our strongest selling points and we have to do more to allow restaurants and cafes to be built in places where tourists (and locals) would like to eat.
  • As an Island, Anglesey should be the natural home of water sports in North Wales. Rhosneigr has already enjoyed some considerable success as a surfing destination, but more needs to be done throughout the Island to promote other water sports such as yachting, canoeing, fishing and so on.
  • One of the 'big ideas' in the People's Manifesto was the creation of a unique, large-scale attraction (possibly at the council owned Rhosgoch site) which could be developed as a cross between a Centre Parc, the Eden Project, and the Coed Y Brenin mountain biking centre. The reasoning being that such an attraction would play to Anglesey's strengths (i.e. its suitability as a water sports venue, coupled with its proximity to walking opportunities in Snowdonia) and have the potential to attract visitors from Liverpool, Manchester, and the Midlands without cannibalising existing businesses in the way, for example, a retail park would. In our straightened times funding for such a venture will be limited, but I think the idea itself has great merit and should be investigated further.
  • Tranquility-seeking tourism is becoming a big market -- especially when linked with being able to see the night sky. Due to the huge amount of street lighting in most cities, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to enjoy starry nights. Anglesey should seek to control 'light pollution' so that our starry night sky also becomes another reason to visit Anglesey.
  • Finally, Anglesey needs to develop a short-term tourism strategy which recognises the opportunity of Prince William's presence and strategically promotes the island's unique features to those living within 2-3 hours drive.

If you have any more ideas, I would love to hear them.


not only but also said...

A quick comment, I sometimes think there are better organisations to run some tourist attractions, other than the Council. Take Melin Llynnon maybe it would be better served if it was run by the National Trust.

And South Stack the RSPB?

Paul Williams said...

Not only but also - I'm not against other responsible organisations taking over and running these attractions, I am however concerned that in its haste to shed these heritage sites, the council may not put sufficient care into ensuring that it finds the most appropriate or suitable organisations/voluntary groups to run them. The important thing is that they are kept open, are run well, and will be protected for the future.

Photon said...

Paul: carry on like this and we may end-up agreeing once more!

It's a good post, drawing a lot on various followers' inputs over the past year.

As for Moelfre Seawatch Centre, that is already practically gone;, the RNLI are going to run it, apparently.

I made the point some time ago that a mere shop - James Pringle in Llanfair PG - is enormously successful because it has tapped permanently into the coach trip circuit. It seems for years, the Council has failed to do the same with places like Llynnon, which surely must be of interest to tourists if marketed and presented in the right way. It's a lack of vision, many staff being polite but not very enthusiastic; students are used as guides during summer, which isn't always a good idea when people ask informed questions.

It's not down to location, either - the superb Newgrange complex in Ireland is quite out of the way, maybe an hour out of Dublin, yet it sees an endless stream of tourists to the world-famous chambered tomb complex. We have direct historical links with that area, yet we have been incapable of doing much to capitalise on what we have.

Prometheuswrites said...

I've mentioned this before;

There is a very nice glossy brochure about the Anglesey coastline and the designated areas for develoment:

Penmon as the Heritage Coast
Niwbwrch as the Envionmental Coast
Rhosniegr as the Watersports Coast
Amlwch as the Industrial Heritage Coast
Holyhead as ... er well I can't remember. (Cruise Coast maybe)

I've tried to find this document/brochure on-line but haven't been able to; a pity as I thought it showed a lot of potential and I agreed with the demarcations.

Does anyone know what happened to it?

I know there is a tendancy to run Ynys MOn down, but we need to become more aware of some of the splendid things that are going on here - we have the teacher of the year (Dwyran)
The social worker of the year - (Brynsiencyn)
The Eco award to the Mussel workers of Menai
and many other hidden tourist gems and projects.

Why projects like Geomon aren't better promoted I don't know - (though my more sceptical side will have something to say about that later).

As they say in the yoof vernacular - "lets big it up"!

Photon said...

Well, Paul's certainly hit on a good topic for debate here.

My gripe is that there is a confusion of identities for Anglesey. As Paul has said previously, we need to look at our best bits - generally a nice, relatively unspoilt countryside - and do what we can with that - which should be quite a lot.

There's also a case of one hand doing one thing whilst the other does something very different - take the beautiful coast from Newborough to Rhosneigr. All you get now is terrible noise from the track owned by the Bodorgan Estate. OK, we can accept people like that sort of thing, but we haven't managed to cash-in on it except for business rates, and it isn't much in keeping with the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty's objectives.

Anonymous said...

Suggestion: could not Prince William become Anglesey's official advocate? Flying around the area and living on one of our coasts, he will, I'm sure, have noted how beautiful it all looks from up there - and down here.

Anonymous said...

Re: Ty Croes Racetrack

Campaign for Dark Skies said...

Controlling light pollution: one of the area's most prominent supporter of this is Sir George Meyrick, who has no light pollution clauses in his rental agreements with tenants.

The Council do have a Planning Guidance (number 10) on this topic, with plenty of useful advice to developers on how to successfully implement it. Sadly, it's often the Council who aren't ensuring their own policy is put into practice. This is a shame, because properly done, we could be attracting thousands of well-heeled amateur astronomers from all over the UK to this island every year.

A recent non-scientific poll suggested that perhaps up to 15% of all UK amateurs have visited Anglesey purely in search of darker skies.

Anonymous said...

Quite right, I hope everyone will support darker skies rather than a proliferation of 'affordable housing' and more nasty council estates.

Anonymous said...

anon 17:12

and wahts wrong with council estates ?

Anonymous said...

the incredible history of this island going back to prehistory is unbeleivable ,the geology for a start, the lakes at the misnamed RAF Valley with its arthurian connections via the artifacts ,the tudors and lots more but of course how many cruise liner or ferry tourists have any idea of any Welsh history or are even interested ,i have talked to a number of them they think they are in england

kp said...

Dave you are dead right. Non-Welsh folk are not at all interested in welsh history, nor indeed any other history unless it has had an impact upon their own history.

The silly fools trying to promote tourism in North Wales have never quite worked this out.

Hence why all matters tourism, cultural or otherwise should be left entirely to the private sector.

David Williams said...

Without doubt tourism is absolutely fundamental to the Island's prosperity.

Good piece in The Times travel section on Saturday based on what Wills and Kate are enjoying.

On the water good things are happening - rib rides, canoeing, Porth Daniel - however the Beaumaris marina outcome was a huge set back. If you're a boat owner berthed in Conwy or Deganwy where do you want to go as soon as the tide allows? The Menai Strait and Anglesey. So much better to keep your boat where you want to use it.

One opportunity is to ensure that Princess Quay in Menai Bridge is an outstanding destination.

But there's so much more required including an attention to detail. Is a tiny brown "Traeth" sign at a tatty crossroads in Newborough appropriate for the most fabulous destination in the British Isles? For those of us who adore it - yes but for our visitors - no. And what of The Marquess of Anglesey's column. In a sorry state and hugely under exploited.

Finally standards. We need to be benchmarking ourselves against the best of The Lakes, Devon, Cornwall etc. What do Burnham Market, Aldeburgh and Southwold have that Beaumaris doesn't? It's a poor reflection that Blas Mwy at Oriel Ynys Mon aside, the best cafe on the Island is in a supermarket - Waitrose in Menai Bridge.

;) said...

KP - Bong!


I'm not Welsh but I love local history - in fact just spent the last 2 days trying to work out where the Romans and Medieval drovers would have crossed the Malltraeth sands in days of yore.

I've found that I know more about local history than 99% of the locals I speak with about it - but then I'm really interested in local geology and history, which you must find very odd, seeing as I'm not Welsh

Anonymous said...

David Williams:

Now that the 'opportunity' to build a marina at Beaumaris has gone, (The same people who sail power boats and yachts are likely to be the same clientelle who like to eat mussels and oysters), what about some other alternative sites.

How about just to the North of Pen-Y-Parc, and South of Aberfraw opposite Llandwyn Island next to the most 'fabulous destination in the British Isles'

Lots of boats anchor up there anyway.

Anonymous said...

Please don't go too big on the Royal connection. They're transients; Anglesey's beauty was here long before them and will hopefully be here long after them.

"the natural home of water sports in North Wales."

Quiet watersports, yes (compatible with "tranquility-seeking tourism"). Jetskis etc and the waterborne equivalent of Anglesey Circuit (already mentioned), no thank you.

"a cross between a Centre Parc, the Eden Project, and the Coed Y Brenin mountain biking centre"

Paul, (again), have you ever visited the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth? Go have a look and a chat and a think, get those who matter on Anglesey to do the same, and see where it leads. It might lead to, for example, eco-cottages that you could stay in not just look at... and who knows what else.

Next big idea: any Mark Radcliffe fans around? No, seriously, don't go, not yet. Radcliffe and Maconie (8pm, Mon-Wed, Radio 2) have recently done a week's worth of shows walking along the Jurassic Coast. They've also done Hadrian's Wall on foot, and probably others I've forgotten.

Anybody know of any regular walking festivals in beautiful walking country with at least as much to offer as the Jurassic Coast and Hadrian's Wall? Any of them got their own local royal, a nuclear power station, a copper mine (etc etc). A little further afield there's Caernarvon, Llandudno, Betws-y-Coed, Snowdon, and lots in between. Radcliffe lives in Cheshire and regular listeners will know he likes Anglesey anyway, should be an easy sell and would hit lots of the target market. For nearly free.

Other comments:

Waitrose: yes Waitrose is (imo and in the opinion of staff I've spoken to) the best thing to happen to Anglesey (and Bangor area) food shopping for a while, with the obvious exception of the Farmers Market. (The Farmer's Market would be up Radcliffe's street too). I've not tried the Waitrose caff yet but there are others on the island that I've rated positively in the past.

Llandwyn/Newborough: doesn't need more signs for passing trade, it's already full at peak times.

Geomon: added to my list.

Dark skies: tell me about it (I HAVE SEEN THE NORTHERN LIGHTS from Anglesey, and I do hope you'll excuse the shouting because me+my partner didn't believe our eyes).

James Pringle in Llanfair PG: it works for the coaches, and Pringles, and hopefully for the T.I.C, but who else does it work for? E.g. does it work for Mike Lees in Oriel Ty Gorsaf right next door in the old station building ? He's got lovely arty stuff, if I had lots of money I'd love to buy lots, but he's probably invisible to the coaches, and to almost everyone except a lucky few. Which is a shame. Maybe coaches work for Beaumaris sometimes too. But in general?

Does Medwyn the Vegetable have anything to offer? Bodnant Gardens certainly does, albeit a little further away.

"We need to be benchmarking ourselves against the best of The Lakes, Devon, Cornwall etc." - absolutely. What have they got that Anglesey hasn't?"

Absolutely. One thing they've got, probably in comparison with Anglesey, is lots of second homes. Now, are those second homes a benefit to the locals, or not? How can you have lots of tourism without lots of 2nd homes/holiday lets? (Cornwall also has £130M of BT/EU money to provide fast broadband but we covered that topic already).

Enough for now?

Richard Sletzer said...

A quick skim through the Trip Advisor site will highlight a lot that's wrong with Anglesey's hotels.

Added to that I'd list these:-

Seagulls - a generation ago these were one of the welcome sounds and sights of the island. But now they've proliferated to such a degree that they're a menace and a visitor deterrent.

Try getting a night's sleep in any Angelsey coastal hotel in August - drunks in the streets until after midnight, no police, and then noisy seagulls from 4.00 am. The only way to get a night's sleep in Anglesey in summer is to stay somewhere inland and rural.

I see the mussel dredging industry being lauded here - but in fact this business is wrecking the ecology of the Straits, stripping bare the sea-bed. Through a series of legal manouevers the clever lawyers who run this business are successfully preventing the development of a marina at Beaumaris. IoACC just hasn't got the financial clout to take them on in the courts.

Private estates: The Bulkeley estate in Beaumaris and Sir George Meyrick's estate around Bodorgan should be open to the public and not closed off as they currently are. Some Royal influence could work wonders here.

Anglesey should become a premium top-end holiday destination. But there's an awful lot of work to do first.

Anonymous said...

KP. Nuts that is, I take it. Eh

Anonymous said...

all very well advertising anglesey as a tourist destination and any potenional jobs it would create ,
but the bottom line is the majority of them jobs would be seasonal and minimum wage ,what we need is to attract industry to the island which can offer above minimum wage jobs to keep the younger generation here so they can buy the so called afordable housing which are planned for the island

Photon said...

"Non-Welsh folk are not at all interested in welsh history"

That rather depends what fixed view of 'being Welsh' you have, doesn't it? The Celtic region spanned a rather large area and that these people predate the Roman, Norman and Viking invasions and subsequent population mixes. So it's rather inevitable that, in quite significant ways, Welsh history ought to be on everyone's reading list.

Fore example, had the Cerrig Bach hoard been found at some other time (not WW2) and other place (not oppressed Wales), then historians generally agree that a culture named 'Cerrig Bach' culture would have joined La Tene and Hallstat on the academic books. Not that there's anything stopping academics introducing the concept today...

Newborough Resident said...

I agree that the Royal connection is transient, and that not too many eggs should be put into this basket.

An example: the Hollywood film 'Half Light', starring Demi Moore. Not exactly a box office hit, but it wasn't that bad a film, either.

We made much of the film coming to Anglesey, and we had Llanddwyn lighthouse painted red and white for the CGI people to enhance.

So, did we see a massive influx of people to Anglesey? No! It probably made some difference for a few weeks, but not much.

For our efforts, we are left with Llanddwyn lighthouse badly painted-over (the red is now showing through in places) and iron nails happily rusting and staining the fabric in the salt-laden air. With their kind of money, the AONB office should have made sure there was a robust 'make good' clause in their contract (there was a contract, waasn't there?) and forced them to repair the damage caused. They have done nothing of the sort in practice. Hopeless!

kp said...

Photon, your point is well made but we must make decisions according to what is, rather than what might, could or should have been.

As for tourism being seasonal and only providing for minimum wage employment, I do not agree. Just visit some of the more prosperous parts of this island, you will see a very different Anglesey.

The younger generation should be encouraged to leave the island, explore the rest of the world, educate themselves further and find good, high paying jobs in the towns and cities. This is what young are meant to do. It's known as growing up and cutting the purse strings.

In time they may return. But if they do, they won't return in search of a minimum wage, affordable housing and state benefits. They will return as men and women of substance.

No, it is the young who do not have the chance to move away that we must feel sorry for. Poor parenting, poor education and permanently poor prospects for work in poor quality jobs. A life of misery. And yet regrettably a way of life that we can see so often recycled generation after generation.

It is all so sad.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, where are we going wrong? The Royal Connection? Get real please, HRH Will Bach and Kate will stay as long as they can but the influence of their Anglesey posting will soon evaporate. The Royal court will soon have them down there, so we are looking at a way to bring more visitors to the area?

First of all, tidy up and clean up, get new road signs and plant more trees, to hide the derelict factories and farms. Get more balloons up and running, Ieuan likes balloons, and he could start his hot air balloon tours of Anglesey.

Get balding people to wear wigs, HRH Will Bach, can have a top piece. but baldies like Albert may have to have a full wig.

Clean the beaches, pick up litter, paint murals on the empty shop fronts, of happy smiling shoppers, paint empty pubs full of gaily laughing people enjoying themselves, getting pissed on benefits.

Get blow up cars and lorries and fill the Anglesey Aluminium car park with them, let the visitors and the royals see how prosperous we all are, with our industry, make sure these blow up cars and lorries are frimly secured with breeze blocks.
Paint all lighthouses black, so at least we can see them in the daylight, never mind the dark, the light will do.
Bring the druid ancients gold back to Anglesey and get a massive envelope for it, then send it in to cash for gold. Job done.

Photon said...

"The younger generation should be encouraged to leave the island, explore the rest of the world, educate themselves further and find good, high paying jobs in the towns and cities."

I agree. Not what I want for the kids, but what is necessary. Not every region of every country can be successful. Anglesey just happens to be one of those that can't.

"Get blow up cars and lorries"

Careful with that combination of words in relation to Royalty - MI5 will soon be calling to see you...

Anonymous said...

Anon 9 14

I got as far as Will Bach and then skipped your views entirely.

I suppose you find being disregarded like this happens quite regular which only goes to further feed your biased little mind. Hope you can see why sometime soon. Good luck.

Rhiannon said...

What sort of mind was it that decided to discontinue the bus service to South Stack? Even two years ago, you couldn't spend any time there on a Sunday from the Beaumaris side of the island - although you could at least do a round trip for a glimpse of the birds and the cliffs - now you can't get there at all

the outsider said...

Anglesey and Snowdonia offers some of the most interesting and beautiful countryside and marine environments anywhere in the world.
Combined with the island's rich cultural heritage this can be the foundation for year round high quality, high value tourism and inspirational cultural activities that visitors and local people can enjoy.
However it is essential to protect the beauty, tranquillity and heritage of those places and environs that constitute the unique character that is the 'selling point' of the island.

Photon said...

What we need is something that pulls the island together in one, coherent message, not a mishmash of 'The island of this' and 'The island of that'.

How about something like:

Rather amusingly, plugging-in takes you back to a blog (nice job!) and takes you to something entirely different from Anglesey. A basic error?

The Red Flag said...

You want more tourists? Then you have to accept that it means more people, more burger vans, more ice cream vans, more cars , more noise. You can't have it both ways and to pretend you can boost tourism by meaningful monetary levels but retain tranquility is plain silly - if you don't give the masses their bread and circuses they will go elsewhere. They won't come to use what you are prepared to give them - they'll only come for what they want.

Therefore, what's needed is one area of the island to be 'sacrificed' for the common good. That area should be Newborough/ Malltraeth/Aberffraw. That stretch of coast with it's flat shallow beaches and crystal clear sea puts anywhere in the UK to shame. To develop it it needs more roads leading to the beaches, more car parks, more public toilets, more cafes and purpose built concrete BBQ pits. A dedicated rail link, Premier Inn style budget hotels, fast food sites, toby carveries and possibly even a proper holiday camp to rival - no surpass even, Hafan Y Mor and Presthaven. Possibly more caravan and modern camping sites as well. And things to do in the winter - an indoor water park for example, a bloody big one. And a permanent amusement park of some sort.

But first we need better, bigger, straighter roads. We have one very good road - the A55 then it quickly deteriorates from there and they would struggle with any major traffic increase (in fact in areas during the summer they already do.)

Anonymous said...


How do we get them here?

Blackpool/ lights.

Anonymous said...


Good luck?

Can the druid explain this hidden threat?

Paul Williams said...

Anon 13:24 - I'm afraid I don't know. You need to ask the original commenter.

TGC said...

"they'll only come for what they want."

Those seeking burgers and ice cream vans,certainly. But there are rather a lot of people who are not 'chavellers', so I see no reason why Anglesey couldn't appeal to them.

Blackpool lights, etc: yes, very interesting attempt at cynicism, except that Blackpool's lights have hardly boosted the economy - it's been suffering from lack of tourists for years.

Prometheuswrites said...

"However it is essential to protect the beauty, tranquillity and heritage of those places and environs that constitute the unique character that is the 'selling point' of the island".

Yes - 'nothing destroys tourism like tourists'.

Red Flag: The Coastal Plan for Anglesey has the Niwbwrch Aberfraw stretch of coastline designated as the Environmental Heritage Coast - not the place for a 'holiday camp' and burger bars - I believe that sort of tourist activity has been designated for Holyhead and/or the Benllech coastlines.

Besides which much of this area is flood-plains.

Anonymous said...


Good luck?

Can the druid explain this hidden threat?"

Wow, such paranoia!! Are you allowed on the computer unsupervised? arse

Anonymous said...

A good tourist attraction would be the history of RAF Valley, get loads of old planes there a bit like they have done at Duxford, only a suggestion, maybe base it at MONA?

Anonymous said...

Battle of Britain stuff, loads of American Planes, should be a good tourist attraction. An air show every year, loads of spin offs.

Anonymous said...

Another suggestion would be similar to the on ethey have in Liverpool, loads of ships and uboats and stuff, to show the battle of the atlantic and the maritime heritage of Anglesey through the past and through World War 1 and 2, base it in Holyhead.

Anonymous said...

The viking experience, get an old viking boat, similar to the viking experience in York, loads of musuem bits, base it in Niwbwch, get time team down to film it, happy days. Get some plastic viking boats 20p a ride a bit like those outside tesco, that will keep the kids happy while the parents dress up like vikings.

Anonymous said...

Farming through the ages, dig up Fred Dibnah, bring his steam tractors down and get the visitors to have a go at ploughing.
Happy days!

Anonymous said...

Stop chuckling, Druid!

Anonymous said...

check out how many jobs there are on offer for the isle of anlesey

24 thats all

Puck said...

Just read book on 'The Wreckers of Anglesey'; apparently this was an old local maritime tradition.

'Holyhead Town - twinned with Mogadishu'

The Red Flag said...

show the battle of the atlantic and the maritime heritage of Anglesey through the past and through World War 1 and 2, base it in Holyhead.

I'm sure Conygar/Stena would love that with their Marina development. Not.

Prom, I kknow that the coastal path goes down there and the nature reserve etc etc, but like I said - " what's needed is one area of the island to be 'sacrificed' for the common good." What's needed is enough development to bring in tens of millions. Niche stuff will not bring in enough money to make it worthwhile once it's diluted across the island. The bottom line is everything is going to have to generate a net profit otherwise it's pointless and counter-productive.

I'm surprised no-one has suggested a casino somewhere around Mona - gangsters, pimps and pushers have loads of money.

The Red Flag said...

I'm surprised no-one has suggested a casino somewhere around Mona

Sorry, forgot County Hall in 'gefni ;)

Anonymous said...

Red Flag you have a wicked sense of humour:

What next? Pay-as-you-view telescopes on the south bank of the Malltraeth estuary for royality watching?

Anonymous said...

"Pay-as-you-view telescopes on the south bank of the Malltraeth estuary for royality watching?"

True entrepeneurship!

Siônnyn said...

Will they be setting up hides, for the visitors, with powerful telescopes, like they do with the Ospreys in Glaslyn, in the hope of them witnessing mating behaviour? ?