Harlech Castle sees huge visitor surge

A £6 million project to refurbish Harlech Castle has caused a surge in visitors to the UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS), according to new figures published earlier this month by the Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates AM.

The project, which focuses on enhancing visitor experiences and attracting new audiences to Welsh heritage sites, has delivered new displays and interpretation, better access, and worked with local arts organisations to bring the site to life. The programme has also seen the instalment of a “floating” footbridge that allows visitors to enter the site through the original entrance for the first time in more than 600 years.

The improvement works were carried out by the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, Cadw, with funding from the Heritage Tourism Project (HTP), a Welsh Government project designed to develop heritage tourism in Wales. The Project has supported 40 historic sites across Wales since its launch in 2009, and is funded by the Welsh Government and EU Convergence Funds. A recent study by Cardiff Business School found that the economic benefits of the project could be up to £19 million a year through heritage tourism.

Harlech Castle forms part of the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was designated a UNESCO WHS in 1986. The site’s Statement of Outstanding Universal Value outlines how the four castles of Beaumaris, Conwy, Caernarfon and Harlech are examples of the colonisation and defence works carried out during the reign of Edward I (1272-1307) and the military architecture of the time.

More information on the project’s success is available on the Cadw website.