'Staycations' to soar in Wales, say holiday firms

By Ceri Coleman-Phillips
BBC News

  • Published
Wales Tourism

Wales' tourism industry is expected to reap the benefits of the vote to leave the European Union.

The weakening of the pound has increased the cost of going abroad, with many British people opting for a "staycation", companies have said.

But the favourable exchange rate has led to a surge in overseas visitors looking to holiday in the UK.

Some tourism providers in Wales have already seen a jump in bookings after the UK voted to leave the EU in June.

Any post-Brexit boost in tourism will be on top of a record year for Wales, according to Welsh Government statistics.

Wales attracted a record 10.4 million overnight visits from British residents in 2015. At the same time the number of overseas trips to Wales was up by 4% compared to 2014.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The value of the pound plummeted after Brexit

Pembrokeshire, a major tourist destination in Wales, boasts the most blue flag beaches out of any other county, historic castles and an award-winning coast path.

The tourism industry is said to be worth about £525m to the local economy.

Pembrokeshire Tourism was set up to support and promote the county as a visitor destination. It has about 500 members, ranging from coastal cottages and campsites to visitor attractions and activities.

Liaison manager Dennis O'Connor said: "Although it's early days following the Brexit vote, there have been reports of encouraging numbers of overseas visitors in various parts of the county.

"Many are coming to walk on the coastal path while others are coming to experience the rich history of the county."

Image source, Tony Atkin/Geograph
Image caption,
The Pembrokeshire coast path is a major draw to tourists

'Surge in booking activity'

Dewi and Jacqui Davies run a selection of luxury holiday cottages near Boncath in the north Pembrokeshire countryside.

They told BBC Wales bookings in the month leading up to the referendum were slower than usual, but after the vote bookings quadrupled, and they are at a 98% occupancy rate until September.

"The impact on our business, Clydey Cottages, has been a positive one with this surge in booking activity," they said.

"We envisage that this will continue with many more British families choosing to stay at home as a result of sterling exchange rates, general safety fears about travelling to Europe coupled with the recent delays in driving to France at Dover."

Image source, Clydey Cottages
Image caption,
Clydey Cottages is among the Pembrokeshire Tourism members to see a post-Brexit boost in bookings

The Welsh Government said tourism had played a key role in the growth of Wales' economy over recent years, and it has a goal of growing the industry by 10% by 2020.

Cabinet Secretary for the Economy and Infrastructure Ken Skates said it was recognised there were "major challenges ahead" as a result of Brexit, but "the Welsh Government has a number of short term measures to provide assurance and stability to businesses across Wales".

Mr Skates recently marked the launch of Visit Wales' latest campaign to promote Wales as an adventure destination.

It sees giant letters forming the word "epic" popping up at unannounced locations across Wales over the summer months. It is hoped it will attract visitor "selfies" and get #findyourepic trending on social media.

Mr Skates said: "There is a feeling of confidence among the industry at the start of the summer holidays.

"We've seen two consecutive record-breaking years for numbers of staying GB visitors to Wales and all indications are that 2016 is also shaping up to be a great year."