Wrexham and Flintshire look set to lead the way for North Wales as a multi-million pound investment zone, a tourism chief has said.

The comments came from Jim Jones, Chief Executive of North Wales Tourism, as he looked back on the region's performance throughout 2023 - and what may lie ahead.

Mr Jones said 2023 has been "a challenging one" for the tourism and hospitality sector in North Wales. 

He explained: "After a successful 2019, where the sector contributed a substantial £3.6 billion to the local economy, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact, and the recovery has been slow. 

"Despite minimal support from the Welsh Government, our sector has demonstrated remarkable resilience.

"Reflecting on the year, 2023 saw Wrexham emerging as a prominent city, casting a spotlight not only on itself but on the entirety of Wales.

"North Wales, has proven to be an excellent platform for experimentation, with the Skyflyer in Rhyl faced with many hurdles and Go Below in Betws Y Coed introducing the world to one of the deepest hotels in existence. 

"These ventures exemplify the bravery and innovation necessary for success in the business world, where risks can result in either triumphs or setbacks."

In 2023, North Wales encountered the introduction of levelling up initiatives and the shared prosperity fund. 

Mr Jones said while some fortunate recipients emerged as winners, efforts to secure funding for the promotion of North Wales domestically and internationally were "disappointingly turned down."

He said: "However, as we turn our attention towards 2024, we recognise the immense potential to capitalise on the success experienced by Wrexham as the gateway city into North Wales. 

"We are actively building relationships with the Japanese travel market, aiming to expand our reach in this area. 

"Furthermore, the growing interest from American and Canadian tourists in Wrexham creates an opportunity that we must be prepared to fully embrace.

"Looking ahead, we eagerly anticipate tangible benefits arising from the shared prosperity bid, along with the establishment of Wrexham and Flintshire as an £80 million investment zone. 

"Our commitment to promoting North Wales as the adventure capital of Europe remains unwavering, and we will continue to tirelessly advocate for the interests of our sector and our members.

"As we bid farewell to 2023, the Tourism and Hospitality sector in North Wales remains determined, resilient, and eager to navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic.

"We extend our gratitude to our loyal visitors and partners for their unwavering support and invite everyone to join us on this exciting journey as we embrace the opportunities that await us in 2024."