|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)
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.