Family cuts holiday short after Welsh resort feels like ‘zombie apocalypse’

A family decided to cut their holiday to Wales short.

Ian Doyle booked a stay in Llandudno with his wife and daughter.

But unfortunately, the three-night stay didn’t meet their expectations so they returned to their home in the Wirral a day early.

The dad, who is a regular at the seaside resort, describes it as a “ghost town” at the moment.

Walking towards closed tourist attractions and safety advice blaring from speakers made the family feel they were in a “scene from a zombie apocalypse”.

In an interview with North Wales Live, Ian opened up about the disappointing experience.

The Doyle family booked their trip six weeks ago on the basis that lockdown easing in Wales would roughly follow England’s timetable.

They stayed at Llandudno’s Travelodge, which re-opened just before the trio arrived in the town.

Ian said the place was “absolutely deserted”.

The family checked out various attractions – Great Orme cable car, the tramway, land train and bus and boat trips – but found them shut or not operating.

However they were able to get onto the pier.

“Hallelujah!” said the dad. “You can walk up one side, down the other, but all the stalls and arcades were closed.

“Instead a loudspeaker broadcasts every five minutes about not going within two metres of each other.

“It’s like Stalag 41.”

In desperation the family climbed in their car and headed to Conwy Castle.

That too was closed, with a re-opening date pencilled in for early August.

“You can walk along the front, which was lovely, as the main pub overlooking the estuary had put every single chair and table outside – it was heaving,” Ian said.

“So how is it that everyone can walk along the estuary in the open air but not an 800-year-old castle – which the last time I looked is in the open air?”

Neither were the Doyles happy with the provision of public toilets in Llandudno.

“Shop toilets were closed and the only ones open were those near Marks & Spencer – but they had 14 people queueing outside,” the dad said.

“Who on earth is going to put up with that?”

The family claimed they fared little better when it came to food.

“I like a good meal and a bottle of red, but the restaurants were all closed,” Ian revealed.

“You could phone an order to the room, assuming you can pick up – but this is not an Uber town and so there were no delivery services.”

Instead they decided to eat out. Some pubs and cafes were open, he said, but all dining was outside only – and seats were in short supply.

“It was like musical chairs,” fumed Ian.

“We found a coffee shop with one table and two chairs, and I pounced immediately.

“I asked if I could borrow a chair from inside but was told it would be too near another couple.

“Finding somewhere to eat really was a major chore, bordering on the impossible.

“It’s only 35 minutes to Chester where you can shop and eat till you drop. By all means have a blanket, nationwide ban but this type of regional variation is just preposterous given the geography.”

The following night, a Saturday, was much busier in the town. But this only compounded the problem, said Ian.

“People are walking around looking for somewhere to have a coffee but there must have been 10 tourists to every available chair,” he said.

“Fish and chip shops were doing a sterling trade but with massive queues.

“After wandering around for another hour we gave up. We went back to the Travelodge, packed up and was home with a kebab at my local restaurant by 8.30pm.

“We wrote off two nights costing £100 – how bad is that?”

Ian believes businesses in the town are being made to pay a heavy price for the Welsh Government’s cautious approach to easing lockdown.

Even if Llandudno and other Welsh resorts re-open more fully in August, it will not leave them enough time to rescue their summers, he said.

“Businesses in the town are going to completely miss any hope of capturing any trade,” he said.

“I spoke to a local shop owner who was trying to sell stuff in the street, he was apoplectic.

All beaches in North Wales have re-opened, as has Snowdonia National Park, and most pay-and-display car parks are now available.

Conwy Council is running a #MakeUpForLostTime tourism campaign but, like the Welsh Government, it is also placing an emphasis on public health and safety.

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