THE weak pound could provide a big boost for tourism in Wrexham and Flintshire in 2009.
That’s the view of Darryl Shaw, the newly elected vice chairman of Tourism Partnership North Wales, which is responsible for the strategic development of the region’s visitor economy.
Mr Shaw, who runs the plush Rossett Hall Hotel in Rossett, believes the economic downturn can also provide opportunities for tourism operators.
He said: “The fact we have a weak pound compared to the euro has a number of benefits, certainly in relation to the visitor economy of North Wales.
“From an overseas point of view, the weakness of the pound gives us an opportunity to attract more European visitors. It’s going to be cheaper for them to come here because they will be getting more pounds for their euros.
“In the past we have been regarded as a relatively high-cost destination so this should lead to an increase of foreign visitors.”
Mr Shaw joined the board of Tourism Partnership as an adviser in 2006 and believes tourism is vital to the overall economic well-being of North Wales.
He said: “Here at Rossett Hall we have 50 bedrooms, a restaurant and two banqueting rooms – 65 people on the payroll, around 40 of them full- time.
“Hotels, by definition, are people businesses, the size of a small to medium-sized factory.”
One of Mr Shaw’s priorities will be to highlight what the North Wales Borderlands – Wrexham, Flintshire and parts of Denbighshire – has to offer.
He said: “In Wales the two icon areas are Snowdonia and Cardiff but tourism is also incredibly important to an area like the North Wales Borderlands.
“We have a host of fabulous places for people to visit in this area. Because of the development of business tourism in the North Wales Borderlands over the last 20 years we have seen a growth in the infrastructure of three and four star hotels.
“The existence of a quality infrastructure enables us to offer a great leisure product as well. In addition, we have an outstanding environment and customers find it an outstanding area too.
“One of the keys to the success of attracting more visitors to the North Wales Borderlands is access into that environment through things like walking, golf and cultural tourism.
“Anybody who has lived in a major city would absolutely welcome a few days in this area because we have so much to offer.”
He added: “We’re living in challenging times which presents us with weaknesses and opportunities.
“The information we are getting from research done by the likes of Visit Wales and Tourism Partnership North Wales is suggesting that people will still take a two-week holiday which may still be abroad.
“But the other two or three short break holidays are forecast to be spent in the UK so it is vital we are in good shape to make sure we get our share of that market.
“Quality is essential. Research has shown the businesses that have invested in quality get their fair share of the business.
“Even though we are in difficult times, I would encourage everybody involved in tourism in the area to maintain the quality of what we offer.
“We know we are in for a difficult year but we will be working hard to reduce the business overheads while maintaining the quality of our product in order to move forward when the economy improves.”
Dewi Davies, the regional strategy director of Tourism Partnership, said: “I am delighted the board was able to elect somebody of Darryl’s calibre as vice chairman.
“His drive, dedication and in-depth knowledge about the tourism product will be invaluable as we negotiate a tricky 2009.”