The latest tourism performance data has revealed further good news for the tourism sector in Wrexham County Borough with a growth of over 4% in the last year!
Data submitted by local tourism operators in Wrexham County Borough has shown an encouraging 4.1% growth in visitor spend in the last year, with a total of £122.6m being brought into the County in 2018. However, since 2010 - this also shows a growth of just over 40%, making the County one of the strongest performers in Wales.
In an innovative move, Wrexham’s current tourism strategy is led by Wrexham County Borough Council working alongside the This Is Wrexham Partnership – a collective board of local hotels, attractions and sector representatives all with the common aim of increasing the visitor experience and promotion of the region.
Figures for 2018, badged as the Year of the Sea in Wales (…a tricky one for staff in Wrexham!!), saw a growth largely due to record numbers of day visitors at the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct & Canal World Heritage Site, Chirk Castle and Erddig – plus the pull of events such as FOCUS Wales, the new Wrexham Food & Drink Festival, Underneath the Arches, meetings at Bangor on Dee racecourse, the Stereophonics gig at the Racecourse Ground, street festivals, Rock the Park and the popular Christmas programme in town.
Above; The popular Wrexham Town Centre Christmas festivities once again grew in 2018, pictured here the inaugural parade on Regent Street
In addition, investment in the sector by the This Is Wrexham Partnership and the subsequent launch of their tourism card and marketing programme in 2017 is believed to have helped these figures. The local area has also developed a strong reputation for high quality food & drink, with independent restaurants such as the Hand at Llanarmon and the Fat Boar attracting national PR and international companies such as Wrexham Lager and Moneypenny continuing to promote the ‘Wrexham’ brand far & wide.
Comparing the data regionally, North East Wales as a whole saw a year-on-year growth of 4.7% and North Wales a 0.8% growth reflecting the continued popularity of the whole region as a leading adventure-led staycation destination within the UK.
As well as spend, visitor numbers shot up in the County, with a 2.6% growth in day visitors with 1.52m visiting local attractions and events, and 1.92m visitors overall. Despite this growth, overnight stays in the County dropped by 2%, although the This Is Wrexham Partnership has now secured funding from Cadwyn Clwyd to invest further in staff training within the accommodation sector.
Above; The award winning Underneath the Arches festival at Pontcysyllte in 2018
Commenting further on the latest figures, generated by Global Tourism Solutions and used by the majority of Local Authorities in the UK, Destination Manager at Wrexham County Borough Council Joe Bickerton said;
“It’s once again really encouraging for the trade and potential investors to see a further growth in visitor spend here in Wrexham County. Each year, we and the tourism partnership try to encourage and support new investment in the sector along with events which have the potential to attract new visitors into the area. We’ve seen this happen over the last year with places such as Rossett Hall Hotel, the Plassey Holiday Park, Bangor on Dee Racecourse, the West Arms and the Hand at Llanarmon all going through new investment programmes – along with the opening of new businesses such as Ty Pawb, Lot 11, Levant and the Pontcysyllte Tea Rooms.
“With figures increasing so rapidly, our strategy with partners across North Wales in the last 18-months has started to focus now on promoting the ‘shoulder season’ – which will try and take some of the pressure off our top attractions who can struggle to cope in the summer months, whilst reaffirming the message that Wrexham County and North Wales is open for business 12-months of the year.”
“We know through our Tourist Information Centre and business feedback that once visitors arrive, many comment about either how attractive, welcoming or accessible Wrexham County is – so our aim in the Local Authority is to use what finance we can access to keep improving these first impressions and visitor welcome in line with our current Destination Action Plan. This includes the ongoing town centre improvements and our new Tourist Information Centre opening next Spring.”
Above; The Plassey Holiday Park in Eyton invested in new clamping lodges, safari tents and a total refurbishment of the Shippon restaurant in 2018
Speaking once again about the positive annual results, lead member for the economy at Wrexham County Borough Council, Cllr Terry Evans said;
"These latest results are further good news for the tourism sector in Wrexham County Borough. I have seen myself how the town and the County has benefitted from the ongoing investment in recent years and I hope that these positive statistics encourage further growth in the sector going forward. It's also encouraging in particular to see a continued development of our events programme which we have worked hard to make happen. Our own events and those staged by the private sector bring more income for our local businesses here in the County and I can only see figures for 2019 growing again”.
These comments were echoed by the Chair of the This Is Wrexham Tourism Partnership, Sam Regan from the Lemon Tree Restaurant. Sam concluded;
"Each year, Wrexham County keeps raising its game, but the increasing ‘togetherness’ of tourism businesses within the area is so encouraging. Year on year the data gathered from local operators and national surveys justifies Wrexham County’s growth as a tourism destination as more visitors continue to choose this area as either a base to explore North Wales from - or for days out at our local attractions or events."
In this last year, the This Is Wrexham Tourism Partnership and the tourism team at Wrexham County Borough Council have collaborated on a number of initiatives and events - all of which have aimed to keep the County competitive and attractive to visitors.
Sam added, "...the tourism partnership has also taken encouragement in the figures and believes that our membership scheme which provides the marketing support for hotels, restaurants and attractions and which delivers collaborative projects such as the new County tourism maps will impact in a positive way for visitors over the coming years."
Employment within the tourism sector also continues to grow, with Wrexham County supporting 1,618 full-time hospitality jobs, with many more employed on a part-time or voluntary basis to support attractions, hotels and restaurants.
Above; Chirk Castle had a record year for visitors in 2018
One of Wrexham County’s leading attractions, Chirk Castle relies on a mix of full-time staff and volunteers throughout the year – as visitor numbers continue to grow. General Manager Shane Logan, also part of the This Is Wrexham team added;
“National Trust Chirk Castle along with Wrexham is really booming. This has encouraged us to look at how and when people come to the property as we focus growth ambitions on the shoulder months of June and September through to November. As Europe’s largest conservation charity, we want to focus on sustainable tourism. Wrexham with its high-quality visitor offer linked to improving sustainable transport links is leading the way in providing terrific days and nights out that do not cost the Earth. Each year, not only do our day visitor numbers keep growing, but we’re also really popular with coach tours from the cruise liners which dock at Liverpool”.
Early indications for 2019 are that tourism performance in both Wrexham County and across North Wales will continue to develop following another year of popular visitor events and positive feedback from attractions and hotels across Wrexham County.
Above; Artists impression of the new Wrexham Tourist Information Centre which is scheduled to open in Spring 2020.