WHEN North Wales was named among the top places in the world to visit in 2017, according to Lonely Planet’s annual Best in Travel list, it reminded many of the potential the region has when it comes to tourism.

From the borderlands of Wrexham and Llangollen in the east, to the surf-fringed rocks of Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula in the west, North Wales packs a lot in, whether it’s World Heritage sites like Conwy and Caernarfon or the unspoiled landscapes of Snowdonia.

While many business owners and industry leaders are fretting about the impact of Brexit, those in the tourism sector believe Brexit, whatever shape it takes, will bring some good news for destinations and attractions across the country - including those in North Wales.

“I don’t have any fears,” says Cheshire-based tourism guru Peter Rosenfeld. “I have hopes when it comes to Brexit.

“Brexit has turned out to be the best marketing campaign ever seen in the history of this planet. Every single country across the world is watching the UK right now - good or bad, we are on the world stage.”

In 2012, Peter co-founded online ticketing agency, WebTicketManager, which allows visitor attractions and other venues to sell tickets directly to customers, securely and without charging a booking fee.

He is also chair of Chester Attractions Partnership and Cheshire Attractions Group and through his company BusyBus offers sightseeing tours across North Wales.

“I operate a business which takes tourists to North Wales,” he continues. “Three years ago we took them three times a week but today it’s seven times a week. Why is that? Because the tourism market has rocketed.

“Our tours are full of Americans cleaning up because of the low pound. It’s never been better to visit the UK with the pound the level it is.”

Peter’s findings match the figures that show that post-Brexit holidays to the UK have increased to record-breaking numbers, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In a recent study, the number of people visiting from abroad in 2017 hit 39.2 million, up four per cent from 2016. This is the highest figure ever recorded. The increase in visitors has boosted the UK economy as overseas tourists make the most of the weaker pound.

As well as more foreign visitors, the domestic market is set to grow with ‘staycations’ becoming the norm: the market research company, Euromonitor International, predicts that no deal would mean around five million fewer outbound trips taken globally by 2022 - with France, Portugal, the United States and Spain the destinations set to lose out most.

This growing demand for domestic travel presents exciting opportunities for Great Britain’s regional tourism boards to shape campaigns that portray their offerings as credible alternatives to their on-the-Continent counterparts.

This winter has seen local authorities across North Wales collaborating on a campaign to encourage tourism across the region during the winter season. ‘Get Wrapped Up’ has been targeting audiences outside of Wales; particularly Manchester, and promotes the array of adventure, food and drink, accommodation, and events on offer across North Wales during the winter months.

The joined-up approach is one of the first of its kind for the region, with all six local authorities coming together to work on one regional campaign for the benefit of the North Wales economy, to help bring new visitors at what can be the most challenging time of the year for the tourism industry. It has included radio campaigns, social media promotions, travel and trade opportunities for journalists and a range of resources for businesses to use.

“Fifteen years ago tourism in the UK was laughable,” remembers Peter, who believes this joined up approach is essential for the region’s fortunes going forward. “It was never discussed in Parliament and wasn’t a political driver.

“Suddenly we went through this accidental tourism boom particularly in the North West. In 2006 Liverpool was awarded the European Capital of Culture and when they delivered it, it was probably the best Capital of Culture that had ever been seen. Liverpool became a must-visit destination and it really put it on the map. 2012 with the Olympics was London-centric but it had the same impact - there became this massive hunger to see Britain again.

“When I started my business in 2003, going to Wales was unheard of. People would always say ‘why would I go there?’ The image was of old fashioned coastal resorts like Rhyl, but we’ve created tours which show North Wales off in all its glory - we go to Llandudno, Conwy Castle and go into the mountains of Snowdonia.”

“Chester is a really interesting city,” he continues. “Every single person has the same response and that is ‘wow’. Our guides are trained to introduce it to people as ‘York without the crowds of people’ - it’s our little secret.

“Chester is a magnet that could and should suck people into the area. It should be The ‘Roman City’ like Pompeii.

“North Wales and Chester are similar in that they are both completely under utilised. The marketing of North Wales is frustrating in general - we don’t have the dynamic enthusiasm when it comes to grasping what to me is blatantly obvious. It spends too much arguing the principles of why it should be doing something rather than just putting principles to one side and going for it.”

Peter points to the Llangollen Railway as a perfect example of a North Wales success story and believes more tourism attractions need to follow their lead.

“We sell tickets for them and see how busy the steam railway is,” he says. “They have huge growth because they just got up and did it. Commercially they’ve revolutionised that railway.”

With tourism in Wales already contributing over £6.2billion to Welsh GDP and more than 172,000 jobs, Peter maintains the industry is facing a ‘Brexit boom’.

“I’m not worried, I’m filling my boots,” he adds. “What we have done with Brexit is harmonised ourselves with the USA in the sense that we have something strange and unexplainable going on - for us it’s Brexit and for them it’s Trump. But whatever happens politically with Brexit is irrelevant because we in tourism are going to have the best 10 years growth.

“If you were a gambling person I think you could gamble with 100 per cent certainty that tourism is going one way and that’s up.”