It makes sense to visit North Wales

A major campaign has been launched to use unique attractions like the Dee Estuary  and the chain of magnificent Norman castles in North Wales as a way of tempting more tourists.

As part of the drive, tourism businesses are being asked to highlight what makes their area even more special to visitors, including the Welsh language.

The Sense of Place initiative is being promoted by Tourism Partnership North Wales with a series of workshops being held across the region.

The wildlife-rich Dee Estuary, St Asaph’s athedral along with the historic castles of Caernarfon, Conwy and Beaumaris are already well-known crowd pullers.

But delegates attending the workshops run by a team of specialists were also asked to come up with their own ideas for less familiar places, events or experiences close to the Wales Coast Path which are guaranteed to create an impression with visitors.

The nine Sense of Place workshops, masterminded by business development and mentoring professionals Barsby Associates, were organised for local people connected with tourism in prime locations across the region.

They included sessions the Ffynnongroew, Rhuddlan,  Llanfairfechan, Barmouth, Aberdaron, Beaumaris, Trearddurd Bay,  Aberdyfi and Caernarfon.

Workshop organiser Adrian Barsby said: “The Wales Coast Path, which was opened in May, 2012, runs for 870 miles around the edge of the country and around half of it is in North Wales.

“In the past year it has been used by three million people and the aim of the all-day workshops is to capitalise on the path by attracting new business, improving average costumer spend and by literally creating a stronger Sense of Place.

“That means giving visitors a sense that a particular attraction, pastime or event here is the only place in the world where they can have that experience.

“People attending the workshops range from B&B owners and tour guides to garage forecourt attendants. They are the people who know their own area best and often they are the only people who are aware of something which would give it that unique sense of place.

“It might be that a B&B proprietor who does not provide an evening meal at their house could suggest a great place nearby for visitors to enjoy dinner, or where a music event or food festival is being held.

“It could even be telling a visitor where they can go to book a day’s sea fishing near to the Wales Coast Path.”

Adrian, who brings a wealth of experience in the tourism industry to bear on his role as workshop mentor including a spell as a director and shareholder of the Beaufort Park Hotel near Mold, added: “The whole purpose of Sense of Place is to get individuals working closely together with organisations for the benefit of the whole area and to get visitors to spend more time and money there.”

A strong theme running through the Sense of Place workshops was the Welsh language, according to Eleri Llwyd who also mentored at the sessions.

Welsh speaker Eleri runs a hospitality consultancy, has more than 20 years senior experience in hotels and restaurants in Wales and across Europe and is on the boards of both North Wales Tourism and the North Wales International Music Festival.

She said: “An important part of the message was to get over to delegates is that if people are able to understand just a few key words in Welsh – such as that ‘aber’ means mouth of a river – it will help them to get a sense of the places they visit.

Among the delegates to the workshop held at the Bulkeley Hotel in Beaumaris was Elaine Gill who has owned the Bryn Aethwy B&B in Menai Bridge, Anglesey, for the past four years.

She said: “I found it very inspirational and I will be using what I learned there to be more professional in the way I run my business.

“I realised I am already doing some of what was suggested, such as telling my guests they can’t leave the area without visiting one or more of the National Trust properties, such as Plas Newydd, Penrhyn Castle and Bodnant Gardens, which are all within easy reach of here.

“As a result of the workshop I also intend to make more of the fact that I use locally-sourced products like bacon and eggs in the breakfasts I serve and that I have a menu in English and Welsh.

“I do this because I think it is important to make my guests feel that they are in Wales.”

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