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The Lemon Tree's Sam Regan and Sarah Tunstall of the Holt Lodge Hotel take on leadership duties!

Whisper it quietly, but for the last six years Wrexham County has experienced some of the strongest tourism growth figures in Wales.  From a humble industrial & agriculture based County, ‘little old Wrexham’ has been going through many changes – but a growth in the Tourism scene.  Really?


Cast your mind back to 2012, and Wrexham Council launched their 5-year Destination Management Plan, shaped around initial feedback from the trade and ambitions to develop visitor experiences at the likes of Trevor Basin, Chirk Castle and Erddig.  At the time, the Trevor Basin and wider area was coming to terms with the growing impact of international tourism having been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.  However, for this to perform – and for the wider County to develop its tourism offering, the Destination Management Plan had to be decisive.


Fast forward to 2018, and tourism figures have grown by 38%, with annual spend now topping £116m per year.


The Local Authority, under severe pressure to make savings has played a significant part in this growth – but during this time, Wrexham’s Destination Partnership Board was a sound advisor and is now in a position to support the Council’s Tourism team to make that next step.  This will be driven by a new Destination Action Plan, due to go before the Wrexham County Borough Council Executive Board and Destination Partnership Board very soon.


With new funding opportunities for private-led tourism groups announced last year, the Partnership agreed to become a not for profit Community Interest Company and launched the This Is Wrexham Tourism card to support local tourism businesses and encourage longer stays in the area.  This generated income, along with a new Membership fee for tourism businesses – with most hotels, attractions and leading restaurants now part of it.  The income generated will then be used to partly act as match funding for tourism grants and to provide additional business and marketing support for member businesses.


Chair of the Partnership for the last 6-years has been Peter McGivern of the CAMRA award winning Bridge End Inn, Ruabon.  Given the imminent launch of a new three-year Destination Action Plan, a new Chair has been appointed – Sam Regan, owner of the Lemon Tree Restaurant with Rooms in the town centre, whilst Sarah Tunstall from the Holt Lodge Hotel will support him. 


Upon taking over the role of Chair – Sam Regan said;


“Having sat on the board for the This is Wrexham partnership for some time, I have seen and positive impact and immense success of the scheme. Since the partnership formed over 6 years ago the tourism scene in Wrexham has gone from strength to strength, bucking the trend compared to other towns across Wales and the UK. One thing that has always stood out to me, is the collaborative approach that the private and public take. I'm certain that this is key to the success of tourism industry in Wrexham.


It’s both a privilege and an honour to be taking over as Chair of the This is Wrexham Board at such an exciting time. I'm committed to re-enforcing the partnership, and with the strong collaborative approach already in place, bolstering the hospitality sector for our home county. 


Tourism impacts in all industries, not just hospitality. My mission is to spread the goodwill seen in the hospitality sector, into other sectors in Wrexham. A destination is a complete package, and a positive experience in the back of a taxi, at the local petrol station, or even a laundrette can help to put Wrexham firmly on the map.”


Sarah, who has been marketing manager at the Holt Lodge since 2016 added;


“It is an absolute privilege to be part of the This is Wrexham Tourism Partnership which is growing from strength to strength. With my experience in marketing and Sam’s in hospitality, I am confident it will benefit the tourism sector of Wrexham and the surrounding counties, which in turn with help continue to drive growth.


Sam and I are committed to ensuring that we will continue the fantastic work done to date alongside Wrexham Council and keep the County firmly on the map.”

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