The UK’s first solar powered aquarium was among the big winners at a glittering ceremony to celebrate a record year in the North Wales tourism industry.
Anglesey Sea Zoo in Brynsiencyn clinched the Green Award at the Go North Wales Tourism Awards thanks to their eco-friendly approach.
Since Frankie Hobro took over the sea zoo 13 years ago it has gone from strength to strength, with marine conservation at the heart of everything she does.
According to organisers North Wales Tourism, attractions like the sea zoo are the lifeblood to the booming visitor economy.
Revenue from tourism had rocketed to £3.2 billion, visitor numbers were at an all-time high and £100 million of investment was being ploughed into the region to make it an even more attractive destination.
Franke was “amazed and delighted” to have won the award.
She said: “We always try and lead by example. For me it’s all about sustainability and raising environmental awareness.
“We have welcomed between 80 and 90,000 visitors this year and that number is growing. We have seen a steady increase in the 13 years since I bought the attraction.
“I’m a single mum with two children aged seven and nine who are, in their own right, little eco warriors. I’ve been involved with green issues all my life and in truth I have no business background whatsoever.
“That’s why I’m passionate about organising regular beach litter picks and why we have installed solar power. And we are the only aquarium that takes its water straight from the sea.
“Our water comes from the Menai Straight and is returned into the sea. It means we can breed endangered species, such as the two native seahorses we have in our waters and release them into the waters around Anglesey.”
She added: “I employ around 40 people peak season and around 20 people fulltime around the year. This award is testament to all their hard work and I’m absolutely thrilled.”
Other local winners included Aber Falls Distillery, Abergwyngregyn, scooped the Go Marketing Award whilst the Go Activity Award went to Zip World in Bethesda and the Go Magnificent Crowd Puller (under 7.5k) Award was scooped by Always Aim High Events, Llangefni
The annual Oscars-style event at Venue Cymru in Llandudno was hosted by Heart North & Mid Wales presenters Lois Cernyw and Russ Morris while the trophies presented to the winners were made by the British Ironworks.
Jim Jones, the managing director of North Wales Tourism which represents more than 1,500 members, said: “The sheer volume and quality of entries this year has underlined why North Wales is increasingly being recognised as a truly world class destination.
“I would like to congratulate all the winners but I would also like to stress that all the nominees have played an absolutely vital role in wat has been a phenomenally successful year for tourism in North Wales.
“This event really showcases the very best of North Wales and we have seen so many amazing entries.
“It is a clear indication to me that the quality of the tourism offer here is improving every year.
“We already had the raw material in the form of our breath-taking scenery and stunning coastline and now we have the infrastructure to match.
“We are not resting on our laurels though. The competition will not stand still so we must always strive to get better year on year.”
The Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas, was delighted to be there.
He said: “I’m delighted to join the north Wales tourism industry in celebrating the best of what the area has to offer – the winners and finalists for the awards do an exceptional job of putting Wales on the map and giving people reasons to choose Wales as a holiday destination. Da iawn bawb – Llongyfarchiadau.”
Full list of winners
Go Special Recognition Award: Peter Jones, Jones the Boats
Go Hotel Award: St Georges Hotel, Llandudno
Go B&B / Inn Award: Taldraeth, Penrhyndeudraeth
Go Self Catering Award: Forest Holidays, Beddgelert
Go Caravan, Camping or Glamping Award: Plassey Holiday Park, Eyton, Wrexham
Go Attraction Award: Llechwedd, Blaenau Ffestiniog
Go Activity Award: Zip World, Bethesda
Go Magnificent Crowd Puller (under 7.5k) Award: Always Aim High Events, Llangefni
Go Magnificent Crowd Puller (over 7.5k) Award : Rhyl Air Show, Rhyl
Go Best Place to Eat Award: Signatures Restaurant, Conwy
Go Green Award: Anglesey Sea Zoo, Brynsiencyn
Go Tourism Business Innovation Award: Gwinllan Conwy Vineyard, Llangwstenin
Go Marketing Award: Aber Falls Distillery, Abergwyngregyn
Go Pet Friendly Award: Forest Holidays, Beddgelert
Go Young Tourism Person of the Year Award: Tim Winstanley, Llandudno Chocolate Experience and Pendragon Drinks
Go Wedding Venue Award: Portmeirion, Minffordd