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"Write something worth reading or do something worth writing" A blog by Amy Willis, a multimedia journalist based in London

Wales outshines the Med as visitors flock to our beaches

Apr 13 2009 by Amy Willis and Owain Bury, Western Mail

WALES left much of the Mediterranean in the shade over the weekend, giving the country’s tourist trade a welcome Easter boost.

The better-than-expected temperatures helped many attractions enjoy a bumper Bank Holiday.

With Wales experiencing largely unbroken sunshine and temperatures up to 16C – much higher than large parts of the Med – the national parks welcomed thousands of visitors over the weekend.

The Brecon Beacons National Park Visitor Centre at Libanus, near Brecon, reported around 1,500 visitors on Saturday alone. Previous Saturdays had half that amount with an annual visitor number of around the 160,000 mark.

Huw Jones, of the Blaenau Ffestiniog visitors’ centre in the Snowdonia National Park, said the slate caverns had been especially popular.

Branches of the National Museum in Wales also had more visitors than usual over the weekend.

At St Fagans – the open air museum of Welsh Life – more than 8,500 people visited on Saturday, which is thought to be more than any of the Bank Holidays last year when only 2,000 to 3,000 people visited the attraction.

Itzel Lopez, of the Cardiff Tourist Information Centre, in the Hayes, Cardiff, said: “It appears the most popular attraction is Cardiff Castle and then the National Museum.

“A lot of people have headed down to Cardiff Bay by boat. The day tours from Cardiff have also been popular this year.

“More people, particularly French visitors from Toulouse, have been staying in Cardiff because of the Cardiff Blues game against Toulouse in the Millennium Stadium.”

Welsh seaside resorts have also proved popular this Easter, boosted by the good weather.

Elizabeth Matthews, from Barry Island Tourist Office, said: “There have been plenty of people down on the beach and on the promenade. All the car parks have been full – the weather makes all the difference.

“It was quieter this time last Easter because it was a lot earlier in the year. Those extra few weeks have made a real difference this year. Little cafes and shops have been doing really well.

“There have been lots of people on the beach.”

Lyn Smith, from the Porthcawl Tourist Office, said the beach there had proved popular.

She said: “The weather has been beautiful.

“There are a lot of people out and about. A lot of people have been asking about tide times for surfing but the fun fair has been the big attraction this weekend.

“I think it is busier than last year because the weather is a lot better and more shops have been open.

“People are looking more now at holidays in Wales because people say it is not worth going abroad because of the situation with the euro.

“It is definitely helping tourism in Wales.”

Luigi Sidoli, owner of Pietro’s Icecream Parlour, in Porthcawl, added: “Because of the recession, people have not been going away and instead they have been staying at home.”

Camp sites throughout Wales have been fully booked over the Easter period as people choose to stay at home.

Nikki Hawkins, owner of the Acorn Camp Site, in Llantwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan, said: “We are totally full with touring caravans and our static caravans. It is nearly full to capacity on our tent pitches. It is so much better than last year.”

David Bowen, of Swansea Valley Holiday Cottages, said: “We are fully booked, and the bookings are coming in quite strongly for the summer.

“ Inquiries are quite strong, so I think the economic downturn is pointing people back into Wales.”

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