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Tourism in Wales

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Tourism in Wales is big business! But why is this industry so important and why does it matter? Read on to find out…

Geography of Wales

Wales is a country located in the west of the United Kingdom (UK) on the island of Great Britain. It has an area of approximately 20,735 square kilometres and a population of around 3.2 million people. Here are some key features of the geography of Wales:

Topography: The landscape of Wales is characterised by hills and mountains with over 600 mountain peaks, including the highest peak in Wales, Snowdon, which stands at 1,085 metres (3,560 ft).

Coastal regions: Wales has approximately 1,200 km of coastline that is mainly rugged and rocky, with sandy beaches and small coves.

Rivers: There are many rivers in Wales, including the River Severn, which is the longest river in the UK, and the River Dee, which is popular for water sports.

National parks: Wales has three national parks: Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons, and Pembrokeshire Coast. These parks are known for their spectacular scenery, wildlife, and recreational activities.

Climate: Wales has a temperate maritime climate, which means that it generally has mild winters and cool summers. However, the weather can be unpredictable, and rain is common, particularly in the western regions.

Political divisions: Wales is divided into 22 unitary authorities or counties, which are responsible for local government services such as education, housing, and rubbish collection.

Overall, Wales is a beautiful and unique country with stunning scenery and a rich history and culture.

Tourism in Wales

Tourism is an important industry in Wales, contributing significantly to the country’s economy. Here are some key facts about the tourism industry in Wales:

Size and contribution to economy: Tourism is currently the third largest sector of the Welsh economy, accounting for approximately 10% of total employment and generating around £8.5 billion in turnover per year.

Tourism in Wales

Visitors: In 2019, Wales welcomed over 10 million visitors, including around 1.8 million international visitors. The majority of visitors come from within the UK, with England being the largest source market.

Attractions: Wales has a range of attractions that draw visitors from around the world, including historic castles, beautiful beaches, scenic countryside, and adventure activities such as hiking and water sports.

Accommodation: Wales has a range of accommodation options, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, holiday cottages, and camping sites. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of luxury and boutique hotels in the country.

Marketing: Wales actively markets itself as a destination for tourism, with Visit Wales being the national tourism agency responsible for promoting Wales as a tourism destination.

Events: Wales hosts a range of events throughout the year, including music festivals, arts and culture events, and sporting events. Some of the most popular events include the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts, the Green Man music festival, and the Cardiff Half Marathon.

Overall, the tourism industry in Wales is an important sector of the Welsh economy, providing job opportunities and contributing to the overall economic growth of the country.

Statistics about Tourism in Wales

Here are some statistics about tourism in Walesthat emphasise the importance of the industry:

1 – In 2019, Wales welcomed over 10 million overnight visitors.

2 – Visitors to Wales spent a total of £2.077 billion in 2019.

3 – Domestic visitors accounted for over 85% of all visits to Wales in 2019.

4 – Cardiff is the most visited city in Wales, with over 20 million day visitors and over 1.5 million overnight visitors in 2019.

5 – North Wales, South Wales, and Cardiff were the three most popular regions for visitors to Wales in 2019.

6 – The most popular activities for visitors to Wales in 2019 were visiting historic sites and attractions, walking or hiking, and visiting the coast.

7 – In 2019, the top five international markets for Wales were Ireland, USA, Germany, France, and Spain.

8 – The tourism industry in Wales supports over 185,000 jobs, which is around 10% of the total workforce in Wales.

9 – There are 520 attractions in Wales, including 641 castles, 399 museums, and 128 gardens.

10 – Wales has three national parks: Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons, and Pembrokeshire Coast, which attract over 12 million visitors each year.

Wales is home to many popular tourist attractions, ranging from historic castles and museums to stunning natural landscapes and adventure activities. Here are some of the most popular tourist attractions in Wales:

Cardiff Castle: Located in the heart of Cardiff, this vast castle dates back over 2,000 years and is one of the city’s most visited attractions.

Snowdonia National Park: Known for its rugged mountains, stunning lakes, and scenic hiking trails, Snowdonia is one of the most visited national parks in the UK.

Conwy Castle: One of the most impressive fortresses in Europe, Conwy Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-see attraction for history buffs.

The Brecon Beacons: A mountain range in South Wales known for scenic walks, outdoor activities, and dark night skies, making it popular among stargazers.

Tourism in Wales

The National Museum of Wales: Located in Cardiff, this museum features a collection of art and artefacts from around the world and is free to visit.

These are just a few of the many popular tourist attractions in Wales. The country has something for everyone, from history and culture to adventure and natural beauty.

Wales is a popular tourist destination that offers a variety of tourism experiences. Here are some of the most popular types of tourism in Wales:

  • Cultural and Heritage Tourism: Wales has a rich history and culture, and visitors can explore many historic sites such as castles, traditional Welsh towns, museums and historic landmarks that showcase the country’s heritage.
  • Wellness and Health Tourism: Wales offers visitors a range of wellness activities across its stunning countryside including spa treatments, self-care retreats, yoga, and meditation.
  • Festivals and Events Tourism: Wales hosts a variety of cultural, sporting and music festivals throughout the year, including the Hay Festival, National Eisteddfod of Wales, the Green Man Festival, and the Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival.
  • Coastal Tourism: Wales boasts scenic coastlines stretching for over 1,200 km, and the country has many beach resorts, coastal towns and villages that offer water-based activities such as beach relaxation, surfing, sailing, and whale watching.
  • Adventure Tourism: Wales is known for its rugged landscapes and outdoor activities, making it an ideal destination for adventure-seekers. Activities such as hiking, surfing, cycling, kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and zip-lining are popular among tourists.
  • Eco-Tourism: Wales has a rich biodiverse landscape with a number of areas preserved as natural reserves, nature parks and wildlife sanctuaries ideal for visitors who enjoy nature and conservation.

These are just a few of the many types of tourism available in Wales, and the country has an abundant range of attractions, events and activities to cater for every type of visitor.

Economic Impacts of Tourism in Wales

Tourism is an important industry in Wales and has a significant impact on the country’s economy. Here are some of the economic impacts of tourism in Wales:

Employment: Tourism in Wales directly supports over 86,000 jobs and indirectly supports many more in businesses supplying to the tourism industry.

Gross Value Added (GVA): The tourism industry in Wales contributes around £2.8 billion to the GVA of the Welsh economy.

Exports: The tourism industry in Wales is a significant contributor to Welsh exports. In 2019, spending by international visitors to Wales contributed around £501 million to the Welsh economy.

Economic Growth: The growth of the tourism industry in Wales has contributed to the growth of the wider economy by generating income and creating employment opportunities.

Investment: The tourism industry in Wales has encouraged investment in infrastructure, new business establishments and also supported the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Tax Revenue: The tourism industry in Wales generates significant tax revenue for the government from various sources, including VAT, income tax and business rates.

Regional Development: Tourism development has contributed to the regeneration of some of Wales’s deprived areas, creating economic benefits in those regions.

Overall, the tourism industry in Wales plays an important role in driving economic growth, generating employment opportunities, investing in the infrastructure and supporting small businesses. All these factors make a considerable contribution to the Welsh economy.

Social Impacts of Tourism in Wales

Tourism has a range of social impacts on the people, communities, and culture of Wales. Here are some of the most significant social impacts of tourism in Wales:

Cultural Exchange: Tourism creates an opportunity for visitors to learn about Welsh culture and history, and for Welsh communities to engage with visitors from different countries and cultures, thereby promoting mutual understanding and cultural exchange.

Increased Sense of Pride and Identity: Tourists’ interest in Welsh culture and heritage can contribute to the revival and stronger sense of identity among local communities, leading to an increased sense of pride and appreciation of their unique cultural heritage.

Job Creation and Employment: Tourism provides employment opportunities in different sectors such as hospitality, transportation and entertainment, which can help local communities benefit from the economic advantages and generate income from the sector.

Infrastructure Development: Tourism generates the need for better infrastructure such as roads, transportation and communication, which also benefits local communities.

Environmental and Cultural Impact: The rapid growth of tourism may lead to environmental degradation and undermine the culture and traditions of local communities.

Seasonal Employment: The tourism industry is typically seasonal, with peaks and troughs in demand across the year, which can create challenges for businesses and communities that rely heavily on tourism.

Social Tensions: While tourism can boost local economies, it can also lead to social tensions in destinations where tourism development is not well-managed or results in overcrowding.

Overall, the social impacts of tourism in Wales can be positive and negative, and it is important to manage tourism development in a sustainable and responsible way to maximise its benefits and minimise its negative impacts.

Environmental Impacts of Tourism

Tourism has both positive and negative impacts on the environment in Wales. Some environmental impacts of tourism in Wales include:

Carbon footprint: Tourism activities such as air travel, ground transportation, and energy use in accommodation can result in large carbon emissions and contribute to climate change.

Waste generation: Tourism can generate significant waste such as food, packaging, and amenities, which can contribute to litter, pollution and other environmental hazards when not properly disposed of.

Land development: Construction of new resorts, hotels and other tourism establishments can have significant impacts on natural environments, including harm to ecosystems, deforestation and habitat degradation.

Water consumption: Tourism establishments such as hotels and resorts require large quantities of water for use by guests, maintenance and laundry, worsening water scarcity and stress on local water systems.

Wildlife disturbance: Unregulated tourism activities, particularly activities such as wildlife tourism, can cause significant harm to wildlife, particularly in fragile ecosystems.

Overcrowding: Too much tourism can cause overcrowding and put pressure on natural sites, infrastructure, energy and water supply.

Sustainable Practices: Sustainable Tourism practices such as reducing energy consumption, using renewable energy sources, and promoting waste management practices are increasingly becoming an essential requirement for tourism establishments in Wales.


Overall, it is important to manage tourism in a sustainable manner that minimises the negative environmental impacts and maximises the positive environmental benefits. This is achieved through responsible and judicious use of natural resources and the adoption of practices and policies that promote conservation, sustainability, and responsible tourism in Wales.

FAQs About Tourism in Wales

Here are ten commonly asked questions about tourism in Wales and their answers:

1 – What are some of the most popular tourist attractions in Wales? 

Some of the most popular tourist attractions in Wales include Snowdonia National Park, the Brecon Beacons, Cardiff Castle, Conwy Castle, St. David’s Cathedral, Caernarfon Castle, and the Pembrokeshire coast.

2 – What is the best time of year to visit Wales? 

The best time to visit Wales really depends on what you want to do. If you’re interested in outdoor activities, like hiking or surfing, then the summer months (June to August) are a good time to visit. If you’re more interested in cultural events, like music festivals, then you might want to visit during the spring or fall.

3 – What are some traditional Welsh dishes? 

Traditional Welsh dishes include Welsh rarebit (a type of cheese toastie), cawl (a hearty stew made with lamb, potatoes, and vegetables), and bara brith (a fruit bread).

4 – What are some of the best places to stay in Wales? 

Some popular places to stay in Wales include Cardiff (the capital city), Swansea (a coastal city), and the Snowdonia area (for outdoor enthusiasts).

5 – What is the best way to get around Wales?

The best way to get around Wales really depends on where you’re going and what you want to do. Some people prefer to drive, while others prefer to use public transportation. There are also a number of guided tours available for visitors.

6 – Are there any festivals or events in Wales?

Yes, there are many festivals and events in Wales throughout the year. Some of the most popular include the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, the National Eisteddfod of Wales, and the Cardiff Food and Drink Festival.

7 – What are some of the best hiking trails in Wales? 

Some of the best hiking trails in Wales include the Welsh Coastal Path, the Glyndwr’s Way, the Offa’s Dyke Path, and the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.

8 – Can you see any castles in Wales?

Yes, there are many castles in Wales that you can visit. Some of the most popular include Caernarfon Castle, Cardiff Castle, Conwy Castle, and Harlech Castle.

9 – What are some of the best beaches in Wales? 

Some of the best beaches in Wales include Rhossili Bay, Barafundle Bay, Broad Haven South, and the Mumbles.

10 – What are some of the best museums in Wales? 

Some of the best museums in Wales include the National Museum Cardiff, the Wales Millennium Centre, the St. Fagans National Museum of History, and the Cardiff Story Museum.

To conclude: Tourism in Wales

As you can see, tourism in Wales is big business! However, there are many aspects that require careful and strategic management to ensure sustainable principles are practiced.

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