Welsh Highland Railway at Porthmadog
North Wales is set to see a boom in Japanese tourists after top travel bosses sampled the delights of the region at first hand.
The leaders of major tourism firms from the Land of the Rising Sun were given a whistle-stop tour of World Heritage sites in North Wales, with visits to Conwy as well as Llandudno, Portmeirion, Anglesey, Caernarfon, Ruthin and Porthmadog.
Organised by North Wales Tourism, the body that represents private travel and hospitality providers, the Japanese delegation also tasted high quality local produce and enjoyed a Welsh National Opera performance at Venue Cymru.
The seven-strong group from the high-powered Japanese Association of Travel Agents (JATA) has now vowed to add North Wales to their European tour itineraries.
They cited the outstanding tourist attractions, excellent local hotels and the hospitality of the North Wales people among the region’s greatest assets.
JATA’s Team Europe Tourism Promotion Council has already pinpointed 30 must-see destinations in Europe for Japanese travellers - with Conwy the only place in the UK to make it on to the list.
Tokyo-based Tomoko Ikegame, manager of JTB World Vacation, said: “I can easily see why this region was chosen. It is my first visit to North Wales and after just a few days I am very excited about all it has to offer. It’s very beautiful and everyone we have met has been so friendly and welcoming. I certainly want to come back and I’ll have no hesitation recommending tour groups to come here to explore.”
In Conwy, the delegation took in the town’s historic castle, met business owners, sampled local food and drink, and enjoyed a tour of the thriving high street and quayside.
Sayaka Eda, Europe Travel Center representative with Club Tourism International, Tokyo, declared the medieval walled town a definite highlight of their trip. She said: “I think it’s different and better than London. There is so much of historic interest here and the small, independent shops are a delight. “Japanese visitors will definitely appreciate the fascinating culture of the area.”
They sampled local food and drink from award winning master butcher and sausage and pie maker Edwards of Conwy, the Knight Shop in Castle Square, and Vinomondo in the cobbled high street where they sampled Penderyn whisky before staying in the Castle Hotel in Conwy.
During the four-day tour group also took a boat ride along the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct at Llangollen, before staying overnight at Ruthin Castle Hotel, then toured the Conwy Valley including Surf Snowdonia and Bodnant Gardens before heading to Caernarfon Castle.
They visited Halen Mon on Anglesey before stopping off at Llanfair PG to be photographed by the iconic rail station name board. Following an overnight visit to the Grade II French-style inspired castle hotel Chateau Rhianfa, the group headed to Llandudno’s Dunoon Hotel .
The final leg of the tour saw the group visiting Llechwedd Slate caverns for a deep mine experience - plus a cheese and ale tasting - a tour of Portmeirion Italian village, a trip on the Welsh Highland Railway and a workshop with local hospitality suppliers at the Royal Sportsman Hotel in Porthmadog.
Other useful links
North Wales Tourist Information site
Published 25 January 2017