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There’s cause for epic celebrations today in Wales as the north of the country has made it on to the Lonely Planet’s Top Ten ‘Best in Travel 2017’ list – the only destination in the UK to do so.

First published:
25 October 2016
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

  • Lonely Planet ‘Best in Travel 2017’ list released today
  • North Wales is the only UK region to make the list, which highlights the top 10 regions globally
  • Wales’ 2016 ‘Year of Adventure’ campaign has highlighted the wealth of activities on offer
  • Giant dragon installation in London today to mark the occasion. 

A playground for thrill seekers, a haven for foodies, a hideout for stargazers and a goldmine for heritage seekers, North Wales has a holiday for every kind of traveller – and came in at number 4 on this prestigious list.  But what caught the eye of the Lonely Planet (the world’s leading travel authority), is the way the former industrial landscape has been reinvented and repurposed to create a series of truly world class attractions, from high speed zip lining and inland surfing, to underground trampolining in a 176-year-old disused slate mine.

Wales has enjoyed two record breaking years with visitor numbers crossing the 10 million mark for the first time in 2014 and record spend from domestic and overseas visitors in 2015.  Wales is looking to sustain this performance with the raised profile from international events such as Euro 2016, and the success of the 2016 Year of Adventure tourism campaign.

Economy Secretary, Ken Skates, said: 

“This is such fantastic news for Wales as our Year of Adventure draws to a close.  Being listed as one of the best in the world by such a well respected and established publication such as the Lonely Planet is a real coup for north Wales.  

“The award will of course play a big part in our marketing for 2017 as we move on to celebrate the Year of Legends in Wales.  I’m sure it will make people who haven’t visited before think about Wales as a holiday destination and will also entice those who haven’t visited for a while back to Wales. 

 “This recognition is testimony to the commitment and partnership working between public and private sector to deliver a world class visitor experience.  North Wales has reinvented itself over recent years and the addition of some cutting edge, world class facilities to match the awe-inspiring scenery has given people compelling reasons to visit the area.   We’ve seen Investment in products which are attracting people to Wales – many for the first time and once in Wales they experience the warm welcome, culture and history of the area.”

Tom Hall, Lonely Planet’s Editorial Director, said, 

“We included North Wales in this year’s list of top ten regions because it deserves to be recognised on the global stage. It’s a stunning area with a vast array of activities on offer to keep travellers entertained. North Wales has also become a haunt of in-the-know foodies, so however visitors get their kicks, once they’ve worked up an appetite, they’ll also be well catered for. North Wales is a gem and should be on every traveller’s radar.”

To mark the occasion, the colossal dragon that’s been touring Welsh castles since famously breaking the banks of Caerphilly Castle in March, has today arrived in London, close to St. Paul’s Cathedral.  

Measuring four metres in length and two metres wide, the creature has reptile-like black and red scales, smoke-flaring nostrils, and an outreached claw ready to capture passers-by.    

Since April 2013, The Welsh Government’s Tourism Investment Support Scheme has made offers of funding in North Wales to 42 businesses totalling £7.8m, inducing investment of £11m and assisting 474 jobs. Recent projects include support from Surf Snowdonia; Zip World; Dylans at Morannedd Cricieth and Bryn Williams in Porth Eirias.  The Environment for Growth EU funded programme which was completed in 2015 saw more than £10 million being invested in north wales projects which developed a range of new products and opportunities for visitors and local people to enjoy and take part in activities within Wales’ natural environment and coast. 

Top 10 Regions in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2017:

  1. Choquequirao, Peru
  2. Taranaki, New Zealand
  3. The Azores, Portugal
  4. North Wales, UK
  5. South Australia
  6. Aysén, Chile
  7. The Tuamotus, French Polynesia
  8. Coastal Georgia, USA
  9. Perak, Malaysia
  10. The Skellig Ring, Ireland.