Harlech Castle developments will boost Welsh economy

Thursday 09 July 2015

A £5.9m project to enhance visitor facilities at Harlech Castle will result in a “wealth of future economic benefits” for local businesses, according to an expert representing north Wales traders.

  • Picture of the First Minister Carwyn Jones outside Harlech Castle

    First Minister Carwyn Jones outside Harlech Castle

  • Picture of First Minister Carwyn Jones outside Harlech Castle

    First Minister Carwyn Jones outside Harlech Castle

  • Picture of the Harlech Castle apartments

    Harlech Castle apartments

  • Picture of the Harlech Castle apartments

    Harlech Castle apartments

  • Picture of the Harlech Castle apartments

    Harlech Castle apartments

The Welsh Government-led construction work at Harlech, which has seen a former hotel adjacent to the castle transformed into luxury apartments, a new, modern visitor centre, a shop, a café, toilets and interpretation area, has already created work for more than a dozen Gwynedd-based firms, and will continue to benefit further local businesses in future.  

Local suppliers have been appointed to run a new café and let the apartments, and a range of local produce will be on sale to visitors at the new shop.

The significant investment in visitor facilities and accommodation at the World Heritage Site is expected to boost tourism and cement Harlech’s status as an all-year-round destination.

The development has been funded through the £19m Heritage Tourism Project, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, and is led by Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service.

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones, who was in Harlech today [9 July] to meet some of the contractors and service providers who have already benefited, or will benefit from the development in future, said: “The investment at Harlech will give visitors an experience which is equal to the castle’s status as a World Heritage Site, and will bring increased tourism and associated economic benefits to the area.

“In 2014, the heritage economy in Gwynedd employed over 8,000 people — 15 per cent of all employment in the county. It’s therefore vital that we continually improve the heritage tourism offer to attract even more visitors.

“It is pleasing to see that the project has already impacted positively on the local economy through the use of local contractors, and that more local suppliers and service providers will feel the benefits in future.”

Colin Brew, Executive Director of the West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce said: “The Harlech Castle development has already had a positive impact in terms of opportunities for local businesses and boosting the local supply chain.

“Looking ahead, the development will offer a wealth of future economic benefits as it begins to attract more visitors to the area and Harlech establishes itself as a key visitor attraction in north Wales.

“The Welsh Government should be commended on their decision to proceed with this important development work which will continue to bring robust economic benefits to the town and surrounding areas for many years to come.”

The new development includes five new luxury apartments that will be let by Menai Holidays Cottages.

Speaking on behalf of the letting firm, Sarah Lloyd said: “This progressive development is definitely something to shout about.

“Alongside holiday offerings that are targeted at families, Harlech now has a package that will appeal to couples and individuals of all ages — from nature lovers who want to explore the coastal path to thrill-seekers visiting our new attractions such as the longest and fastest zip line in Europe."

Freya Bentham, who has been awarded the contract to run the tearooms in the new visitor centre, added: “The new visitor centre will act as a hub for tourists who’ve come to the area and want to find out what’s going on — even during the winter months.

“The new development will attract all sorts of visitors, from family groups to young couples, and will help to spread the message that Harlech is open all year round.”

Construction work at the castle has also involved the installation of a new footbridge. The bridge will allow visitors to enter the site through the original historic entrance for the first time in more than 600 years.