Some of Wales’ best-loved tourist attractions have already enjoyed an early bank holiday boost, with up to double the normal number of visitors over the weekend.
Daytrippers and tourists took full advantage of a mostly fine two days to flock to the seaside, fairgrounds, theme parks – and even to catch a glimpse of an historic cruise liner visit.
The early success was warmly welcomed by the country’s tourism industry, which is worth around £5bn to Wales’ economy.
Chris Osborne, chair of Wales Tourism Alliance, said he believed a good weekend was crucial to setting up the rest of the week, which will be a half-term holiday for most schools.
Whitesands Bay, in Pembrokeshire, was one seaside resort which benefited from mostly dry and bright conditions.
Bank holiday fun in the sun
Peter Lavin, who manages the Whitesands Camping site opposite the beach, said the 13 acres of the site could’ve been filled three times over during the Bank Holiday, and that he expected to be similarly busy throughout the week.
He said: “It’s so hard for parents to get away when their children are in school nowadays, so they’ll take full advantage of the opportunity of the school break.
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“The bay has been full all weekend, which is great for us and great for the area.”
The popularity of the seaside stretched down to Barry Island, too.
A favourite of tourists for generations, it has recently experienced a boom after the re-opening of its Pleasure Park.
Graham Williams, co-owner of John’s Cafe in Barry Island, said: “It’s been very busy here over the bank holiday.
“A lot of it is to do with the weather, and a lot is to do with the amusement park re-opening.
“There’s a buzz because people who haven’t been here for years are coming back and seeing all the changes the council are implementing, how tidy the place is looking compared to a few years ago, and they’re telling their friends, and it’s having a knock-on effect.
“Businesses like ours are feeling the benefits of Barry’s success.”
Bosses at Wales’ biggest theme park were similarly pleased.
Gary Davies, director of Oakwood in West Wales, said: “We’ve had twice as many people in the park than we had forecast. We’re yet to crunch the numbers but we can tell it’s been a very successful weekend. That’s down to a combination of the weather, it being a Bank Holiday, new developments, and so on.”
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Meanwhile, in North Wales, crowds flocked for a glimpse of the ocean liner Queen Mary 2, as it headed for a special event.
The ‘Three Queens’ extravaganza across the border in Liverpool will see the flagship liner, together with the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, converging on the city, ahead of Cunard’s 175th anniversary celebrations.
The event is expected to draw large crowds both from the north west of England and North Wales.
Despite a mixed bag of sunshine and clouds over the Bank Holiday weekend, the coming week is set to provide even cooler temperatures and greyer skies, culminating in outbreaks of rain and strong winds across Wales on Thursday.
With notable events such as the Hay Festival and the Urdd Eisteddfod hoping to take advantage of the school break and draw in large crowds, organisers are hoping conditions remain dry until the end of the month.
But Aled Sion, director of the Urdd Eisteddfod, which kicked off last night in Caerphilly county, said organisers had made sure the youth festival would succeed whatever the weather.
He said: “We plan for bad weather. We have plenty of indoor areas and activities for people to enjoy if the weather is bad. But everybody is hopeful that we’ll have dry conditions so the whole festival can be taken advantage of.