The North Wales destination that is so popular that tourists offer bribes to stay there
For many holidaymakers enjoying the holiday sunshine in North Wales, there was a cold dose of reality on the way home.
According to Traffic Wales, the Welsh government service, Tuesday was the busiest day on the A55 since August 2019.
Much of the weekend saw bumper-to-bumper traffic on the region’s roads. Returning visitors had the worst when on Tuesday A55 traffic in Northop, Flintshire climbed 42% from the previous week.
Many sun worshipers headed for the coast and, it seems, the beaches of Gwynedd in particular.
Analysis of mobile data found Talybont, Gwynedd, experienced the largest increase in visits of any coastal town in England and Wales.
Here, attendance has increased by 60% compared to the previous three weeks, according to Huq Industries, a mobility research company.
An owner of a caravan site in the village described how desperate customers looking for space offered “big brown envelopes” filled with cash.
Barmouth (up 58.4%), Llanbedr (55.2%), Harlech (53.1%) and Fairbourne (50.4%) were also crowded.
Another beneficiary was the small village of Llwyngwril, whose population of 526 grew by 47.3% over the weekend, possibly attracted by the dolphins that can often be seen in Cardigan Bay from the beach.
A little further down the coast, Aberdyfi was the third busiest coastal town in the survey (up 57.9%).
Amlwch, Anglesey, where the local population has again increased by almost half (46.9%) is another place where the number of visitors has increased during the holidays.
This put the port ahead of more familiar destinations such as Saundersfoot (46.3%) and Tenby (43.4%).
Conrad Poulson, CEO of Huq Industries, said coastal towns in Wales and the North East and South West of England dominated the ranking of public holidays.
“A number of the top destinations are smaller places, like Amlwch in Anglesey and Looe in Cornwall,” he said.
“This suggests that many vacationers were thinking about their trips and choosing places off the beaten track.”
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Talybont’s status as Britain’s busiest seaside resort – relatively speaking – owes a lot to its location, less to its proximity services: there is a pub, hairdresser and take-out, but not large – something else.
What it has is a mass of caravan parks and campsites, all nestled between sandy and pebble beaches and the spectacular Rhinog Mountains.
Morris Wilcox, owner of the Dalar Farm trailer and campground, said the area’s natural attractions are an obvious draw to visitors.
“We were full on the holiday and we’re pretty full this weekend as well,” he said.
“The area has natural beauty with the sea on one side and the mountains behind us, so there is a lot for people to do.
“The sun probably helped with camping last weekend as well.”
Sheltered behind the dunes, Talybont’s caravan parks cater for all tastes, from fine cuisine to fish and chips.
To give the youngest a break between swimming, walking and swimming in the river, some sites have games rooms.
At Sea Nymph, a sea-view site offering vacation cabins and owner-rented cabins, last weekend’s rush came as no big surprise.
Owner Christine Evans said all of her properties are already fully booked until the end of October.
She suspects that the lifting of Covid restrictions has unleashed a huge pent-up demand for national getaways.
“A few people have postponed their stay until next year because travel abroad is now possible,” she said.
“But otherwise, people are happy to come to an area that offers a lot of peace and quiet.
“We have the sea and the mountains but few shops – for that people have to go to Porthmadog or Harlech.
“There are places to eat in the area, but the holiday parks have their own grocery stores and restaurants, so visitors don’t have to go far.”
Islawrffordd Caravan Park in Talybont is a place that offers fine dining. As well as providing a playground, cafe and swimming pool, it is home to the Nineteen.57 restaurant, named the best in North Wales 2019.
Dylan Evans, a manager, said the park’s 275 units were full last weekend and will be full again this weekend.
“We are a lot busier this time of year than in previous years,” he said.
“Weekends are always full, but on Thursday the occupancy rate only dropped to 98%, so midweek visits are much higher.
“During the holiday we had visitors yelling and shouting to stay, some offering large brown envelopes of money in the hope that they could skip the line.
“People desperately want to stay in a beautiful part of the world that, to some extent, we take for granted.
“It’s good for the region. Take away tourism and there isn’t much left.
No city in the south-east of England has made it into the top 15 busiest seaside resorts during public holidays.
According to Huq Industries, this suggests that travelers from London and the Home Counties have looked further afield for their beach trips, particularly Wales and Cornwall.
In England and Wales, the average increase in visits to seaside resorts has increased by almost 49%.
This compares to just 19% for the same holiday in 2019 (in 2020 the UK was still on lockdown), suggesting that resorts benefit the most from overseas travel restrictions.
In contrast, holiday visits to Snowdonia climbed 41.9% last weekend.
Bala (+ 56.6%) and Betws-y-Coed (50.4%) were particularly active.
Despite its reputation as a honeypot destination, the number of visitors to Snowdon grew 43.1% more cautiously.
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