The company says sales of caravan holiday homes on some parks are significantly up on the same time last year and vacant pitches across the region are being snapped up like hotcakes.
Salop Leisure supplies caravan holiday homes and luxury lodges to more than 100 holiday home parks across Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd.
To highlight the demand for pitches, one coastal park reported 60 pre-booked appointments in the first week after reopening following the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. An inland Mid Wales park reported 16 new customer enquiries on the first day of reopening.
“Pitches that were vacant on many Mid Wales parks at the start of the year are now full and my message to anyone thinking about investing in a caravan holiday home is to act quickly to avoid disappointment,” said Salop Leisure’s managing director Dylan Roberts.
“Since the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in Wales, parks across Mid Wales have reported high demand from new customers, with up to 80% of enquiries coming from first time buyers.
“The feedback we are receiving is that customers are planning to holiday in Mid Wales for the foreseeable future, not just this year. COVID-19 and also Brexit are key considerations when people are planning their future holidays.
“Staycationing is definitely a strong trend and Mid Wales seems to be a very popular destination, which is great news for the region’s tourism industry and all associated businesses.
“Many small businesses across Mid Wales who rely on tourism have suffered at the hands of cheap flights and European package holidays in recent years. The tables could now be turned.
“Uncertainty about airlines, restrictions on foreign travel and the progress of the pandemic in other countries makes people apprehensive about leaving this country.”
Mr Roberts explained that parks and businesses across the region were delighted to welcome back existing customers who had been longing to return to their holiday homes.
Salop Leisure and all of the parks are asking customers to stay safe by strictly observing public health advice, abiding by the social distancing rules in place in Wales, which differ to England and being respectful to local communities.
“It’s reassuring to know that most holiday home parks have achieved “We’re Good To Go” status, the official UK mark to signal that a tourism and hospitality business has worked hard to follow Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines and has a process in place to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing,” he added.
“The caravan industry is perfectly placed to cater for families who value quality time together. Caravans holiday homes are such an attractive proposition as they are able to safely facilitate quality family holidays.
“Even before the pandemic, the feedback we were getting from customers was that they were looking for better value for money and more flexibility with their holiday requirements for the future.”
Seven Oaks Holiday Home Park at Crew Green, between Shrewsbury and Welshpool.
“After four and a half months of being locked out, we can’t wait to start locking people in again,” said Jo Woodall, who created and co-owns the attraction with Lorna Morris.
“We have taken every measure possible to ensure the safety of both customers and staff during this pandemic and look forward to welcoming visitors back to Beyond Breakout.”
Groups visiting the attraction must be from the same household or extended bubble and all players must provide and use their own masks whilst playing the games.
The attraction has carried out a comprehensive risk assessment and completed the Visit Britain ‘Good to Go’ certification. There are hand sanitising stations in the entrance lobby and in the reception area as visitors enter, and sanitiser within the escape room itself for use throughout the game.
Beyond Breakout is using the sanitising disinfectant Aktivora, which is clinically proven to be effective against COVID-19 and conforms to British Standards. Providing a background level of disinfectant for 24 hours, it is used to thoroughly clean the room after each game.
“We have altered some puzzles in our Puzzle Land game to keep our players safe,” explained Jo, “and have increased the time between games to ensure groups do not cross over at any stage.
“This increase in time between games also enables us to thoroughly clean down our rooms between games together with the reception and briefing area. Lorna and I are always more than two metres away from visitors and all the windows, including in the in the Puzzle Land room, are open to increase ventilation.”
Jo and Lorna have spent lockdown working on new games, one of which is The Mask which should soon be ready to open.
Bookings can be made online at www.beyondbreakout.co.uk and Jo and Lorna are available to answer any questions by email at email@example.com .
Beyond Breakout is a member of MWT Cymru, an independent organisation that represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd.
Picture caption: Beyond Breakout creators Jo Woodall (left) and Lorna Morris.
The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway plans to begin running public steam-hauled services again from Saturday, August 1, with extensive precautions to ensure a safe, affordable and enjoyable experience in the fresh air of rural Mid Wales.
Since lockdown restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic were eased, staff at the popular Mid Wales tourist attraction, almost all volunteers, have been working hard to enable the line to reopen.
Essential maintenance has been needed to the railway after several months of disuse, while a host of coronavirus protective measures have been set up. From July 18, test trains have been running to check that all the correct procedures are in place and these trains will continue right up to the first weekend of reopening.
Initially the railway will operate daily services over half its route, from Llanfair Caereinion to Castle Caereinion. “Because social distancing measures will greatly reduce the capacity of each train, we are running more trains over a shorter distance initially to ensure we can offer rides to as many visitors as possible,” said railway spokesman Andrew Charman.
“We are determined to return to running services over the full line as soon as we can. In the meantime, the Llanfair-Castle section has lovely views along the Banwy River and a steady climb through fields and woodlands which visitors can enjoy from the large windows in our carriages and on the open-air balconies.”
The initial timetable will consist of four trains per day at 10.30am, 12.10pm, 1.50pm and 3.30pm. Intending travellers must pre-book tickets through the railway’s website at www.wllr.org.uk . Train capacity will be severely limited and tightly controlled to maintain social distancing and pre-booking online will be the only way to guarantee being able to travel.
A one-way system will be in operation at Llanfair station and all services will be return trips – passengers will not be able to board or alight at Castle Caereinion. On return to Llanfair, the railway’s shop will be open and hot and cold takeaway refreshments available to enjoy.
All visitors and staff attending the railway will be required to wear face coverings, as on mainline railways, and trains will be cleaned between trips. A host of further cleaning measures have been carried out and there will be hand sanitisers widely available.
“We are obviously very keen to start operating again as soon as possible but our priority at all times is the safety of our visitors and our staff, volunteer and paid,” Andrew added. “We are taking every possible measure to ensure this safety.”
All involved with the line are grateful for the huge support shown by enthusiasts around the UK and beyond, and particularly the local community, during the four months of enforced closure.
“The Covid-19 pandemic and the loss of revenue that has resulted from it has proved very challenging,” said Andrew. “But in that time we have been most grateful for the donations to our fundraising appeal and the grant aid afforded to us, but equally for the many positive comments, phone messages and emails, telling us how much our trains are missed and hoping we would be opening again soon.
“Now we look forward to our steam trains again being a familiar sight in the Banwy Valley.”
For more details or to pre-book travel tickets go to the W&LLR website at www.wllr.org.uk
Picture caption: Austrian loco ‘Zillertal’ has been starring on the Llanfair Line’s test trains in
Photo: Elizabeth Hall, W&LLR
The museum will be up against stiff competition, including the Royal Collection Trust’s ‘Leonardo da Vinci: Life in Drawings’ and Tate’s ‘Steve McQueen Year 3’ exhibitions. The winner will be announced at a virtual ceremony on September 22.
Councillor Catherine Hughes, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Porth Ceredigion, Early Intervention, Well-being Hubs and Culture, said: “I am delighted that Ceredigion Museum has been shortlisted for this award, and against fantastic other museums located in London.
“All staff at Ceredigion Museum should be incredibly proud of their hard work. This is a tremendous achievement.”
Carrie Canham, Ceredigion Museum’s curator, said: “We’re thrilled beyond words and so proud of this achievement and I’m particularly pleased for my colleague Alice Briggs, assistant curator, who curated the exhibition.
“But she couldn’t have done it without the support of the whole team of staff, volunteers and project funders and partners, so it’s a feather in all of our caps.”
The exhibition, which ran between April and June 2019, looked at the history, heritage and culture of sheep farming communities and their wider relationship with the land and landscape in Wales.
It represented a huge gear change for the museum by being the first to feature high value loans from a national institution, thanks to grant funded upgrades in security. It included three Henry Moore drawings and other artworks from Tate, which offered an exciting opportunity to see Welsh artists exhibit their work alongside internationally significant works of art as well as Ceredigion’s own collection.
Contributing Welsh artists included Ffion Jones, Miranda Whall, Christine Mills, Morag Colquhuon, Carwyn Evans, Marian Delyth and Short and Forward.
The exhibition was accompanied by the ‘Future Landscapes’ symposium, which brought together artists, curators, academics, farmers, environmentalists and others to discuss the issues around the heritage and future of Ceredigion’s uplands.
The legacy of this ground-breaking event is ongoing; the museum hosts monthly ‘Peoples’ Practice’ meetings, virtually during lockdown, to keep the dialogue open.
The exhibition was supported by the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund. Created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund, the Weston Loan Programme is the first ever UK-wide funding scheme to enable smaller and local authority museums to borrow works of art and artefacts from national collections.
Further funding was provided by Arts Council of Wales, The Ferryman Project: Sharing Works of Art, which is supported by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the John Ellerman Foundation and Art Fund.
Ceredigion Museum’s ‘Sheep’ exhibition.
A popular Cycle Jumble planned by the National Cycle Museum, Llandrindod Wells on Saturday, September 19 has now been postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 virus.
A new date is to be arranged for the event, which was due to have taken place at Llandrindod Wells County Primary School, Cefnllys Lane.
Ten new members have joined an independent organisation that represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Mid Wales during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
MWT Cymru, which has member businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd, has been busy supporting members throughout the lockdown.
In addition to keeping businesses informed and helping them to access financial support, MWT Cymru has been working closely with Visit Wales, Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum, Wales Tourism Alliance and local authorities to ensure that tourism remains high on the political agenda.
The 10 new members are Cambrian Coast Caravan Park, Ynyslas, Borth; Dolau Afon Holidays, Llanafan, Aberystwyth; The Original Shandals Company, Machynlleth; Poppies Guest House, Newtown; Open Newtown; Trenewydd Farm Holiday Cottages, Moylegrove, Cardigan; Coedmor Self-catering Holiday Cottages, Caerdeon, Barmouth, Dyffryn Café and Restaurant, Foel, Erwbarfe Farm Caravan Park, Devil’s Bridge, Aberystwyth and Earthbound Organics, Dolau, Llandrindod Wells.
“We are delighted to have been able to increase our membership at such a challenging time for all tourism and hospitality businesses,” said MWT Cymru’s chief executive Val Hawkins. “It’s very encouraging that these businesses have approached us wishing to become members.
“We shall continue doing our utmost to represent and support all our members as we all find ways of operating safely and successfully in the coming weeks and months as Mid Wales bounces back from the pandemic.
“Collaboration is going to be more important than ever to help the tourism sector bounce back from the severe impact of the pandemic on businesses and communities across Mid Wales.
“The tourism sector employs 23,000 people in Mid Wales and generates more than £1 billion annually to the local economy. Tourism is vital, now more than ever.”
As the Welsh Government continues to lift travel restrictions in Wales, pub beer gardens, restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating, self-contained accommodation and caravan holiday parks will be allowed to reopen from July 11, if cases of coronavirus continue to fall. This follows the easement of restrictions on July 6, allowing journeys to outdoor tourist attractions and destinations.
MWT has been supporting members throughout this crisis to help keep businesses informed and access financial support, working closely with Visit Wales, Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum, Wales Tourism Alliance and local authorities.
“Collaboration is going to be more important than ever to help the tourism sector bounce back from the severe impact of the pandemic on businesses and communities across Mid Wales,” said Mrs Hawkins.
“We have undertaken specific research to understand how visitors, as well as local communities, feel about reopening and we are using these insights to develop our recovery programme.”
“The tourism sector employs 23,000 people in Mid Wales and generates over £1 billion annually to the local economy. Tourism is vital, now more than ever. We need people in Wales and beyond to choose Mid Wales as a destination.
“However, there is a delicate balance that needs to be struck in reopening. Safety is at the forefront of everybody’s minds, and all our member businesses are committed to creating a safe experience – both for visitors and our local communities.”
MWT is encouraging all businesses in Mid Wales to sign up for Visit Britain’s new industry standard mark, ‘We're Good To Go’.
“We’re Good To Go is the official UK mark to signal that a tourism and hospitality business has worked hard to follow Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines and has a process in place to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing,” said Mrs Hawkins.
“When you see the ‘Good To Go’ accreditation logo on our Visit Mid Wales website, you can be confident that these businesses are operating in line with Welsh Government and Public Health Wales guidelines.
“When visitors return, we also urge them to play their part to help keep our communities safe by practicing safe behaviours like social distancing, regular hand washing and wearing masks when in public spaces (e.g. shops, public transport).
“Visitors can help Mid Wales families and communities by shopping locally and visiting our local attractions. Every pound invested in our communities will help us recover from this pandemic.”
She added: “We must remember that even now, whilst lockdown is easing, coronavirus has not gone away. We need to adapt and recover, and this will be the collective responsibility of everyone. We hope that our visitors will support us and help Mid Wales to recover from this crisis.”
She said she had been heartened to see excellent examples of positive collaboration between businesses and communities during the lockdown and is confident this will continue.
“Businesses have been sharing ideas, creating opportunities to work together and supporting each other,” she added. “Our MWT Cymru Members Facebook Group is very active.
“Other businesses have used the lockdown to improve and change their accommodation ready to welcome back visitors.”
Mrs Hawkins quoted the awarding winning Fforest Fields caravan, camping and glamping site at Hundred House, near Llandrindod Wells as an excellent example of a member working with 13 other local businesses to respect their local community.
In a joint message to the community of the Edw Valley and surrounding area, the businesses said: "We are proud to call Radnorshire our home. Although each of our tourism businesses is different, we are united in safeguarding our local community as we look to re-open our businesses after lockdown.
“Before we are able to reopen, we want to reassure our friends and neighbours that we are treading cautiously and are focused on your safety. We are following guidelines and advice from policymakers, the Government, our governing bodies and business networks.
“We will do everything needed with due care and diligence. All our decisions will be weighted by our respect for our community and an understanding of the limits of our local health service.
“Tourism is an important sector for the local economy. Our guests come here because they love the rural beauty of Mid Wales and want to escape their day to day lives. They are respectful and supportive. We want to work to ensure there is harmony between those living and working here and those visiting when the time is right.
“We openly ask anyone who lives and works within the community of the Edw Valley and surrounding area to get in touch if they have any concerns or questions. We thank you for the support shown by so many of you during this difficult time for our businesses, families and teams."
Picture caption: Val Hawkins MWT Cymru’s chief executive.
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