VOLUNTEERS at a Llangollen railway that came back from the brink of collapse have been hailed as tourism heroes in North Wales.

The popular Llangollen Railway was among the big winners at the prestigious Go North Wales Tourism Awards at Venue Cymru in Llandudno last night (November 23).

This year, the ceremony was hosted by ITV Wales journalist Carole Green and the headline sponsor was Harlech Foodservice, which supplies many of the region’s hotels, guest houses and restaurants.

Llangollen Railway was named Go Attraction of the Year after staging a remarkable comeback.

The heritage railway is now back on track after mounting debts caused by COVID-19 disruptions forced its operating arm into receivership.

It steamed forward thanks to the dedication of the volunteers of the Llangollen Railways Trust who took over the railway’s operation.

Earlier this year, the organisation achieved a long-held ambition to open the new £1.25million station in Corwen, enabling passenger-carrying trains to return to the Denbighshire town first time in four years.

Llangollen railway chair Phil Coles said: “It’s been a lot of very hard work over two and a half years with an awful lot of input from visitors and staff.

“Very many people have gone over and above in their dedication to the railway and this award is the icing on the cake for us after going bust in the pandemic.”

Tom Taylor, general manager, added: “We had to work with the rest of the tourism industry just to survive but we have taken the railway out to Corwen now and we’re already making a big difference to the town there.

“We’re looking towards National Park status now and we need to be a really polished product.

“We need to stabilise, recover and build for the future and the staff have been key to that and this award is for them.”

Jim Jones, chief executive of North Wales Tourism, said: “We are grateful to Harlech Foodservice and all our other sponsors for stepping up to the plate to support the Go North Wales Tourism Awards.

“Tonight is an opportunity to celebrate the best of best in the tourism and hospitality sector.

“The sheer volume and quality of entries this year has underlined why North Wales is a truly world class destination.

“I would like to congratulate all the winners but I would also like to stress that all the nominees are playing a vital role in championing what we have to offer visitors from home and abroad.

“They do an exceptional job in putting North Wales on the map.

“The priority now is to try to get back up to where we were in 2019 and to increase the spend of the visitors who come here by raising the quality of what we are doing.”

David Cattrall, managing director of Harlech Foodservice, added: “We are delighted to once again be the headline sponsor of this wonderful awards ceremony and it’s very much a vote of confidence in the tourism and hospitality sector which has endured such a difficult time in recent years.

“This is our opportunity to give something back and celebrate the achievements of our core customers.

“The fundamental reasons why North Wales is such an attractive place to visit are still there and will continue to be in demand in future.

“We have amazing scenery and world class facilities so I am sure the sector will go from strength to strength.

“That means that the tourism and hospitality sector can play a big role in leading the economic recovery in North Wales.”

Winners at the Go North Wales Tourism Awards

  • Go Large Hotel of the Year 2023 - Rossett Hall Hotel, Wrexham
  • Go Small Hotel of the Year 2023 - Plas Dinas Country House Hotel, Bontnewydd
  • Go B&B / Inn and Guest House of the Year 2023 - Riversdale House, Llangollen
  • Go Self Catering of the Year 2023 - The Rocks at Plas Curig, Capel Curig, Betws y Coed
  • Go Glamping, Camping, Caravanning and Holiday Park of the Year - Tan y Bryn Glamping & Touring, Llandudno Junction
  • Go Attraction of the Year 2023 - Llangollen Railway
  • Go Experience of the Year 2023 - Go Below Underground Adventures
  • Go Best Event of the Year 2023 - Always Aim High Events, Llangefni
  • Go Eating Out Experience of the Year 2023 - The Lemon Tree, Wrexham
  • Go Tourism Supplier of the Year 2023 - Parisella’s Ice Cream, Conwy
  • Go Young Person in Tourism & Hospitality Award 2023 - Megan Harris, Abergele Golf Club
  • Go Skills Enhancement in Tourism & Hospitality Award 2023 - Rhian Jones, Conwy Tour Guide
  • Go New Tourism Business of the Year 2023 - Tree Tops and Train Tracks, Mold
  • Go Cruise North Wales sponsored by Cruise Wales - Wales Best Guides
  • Go Pet Friendly Award 2023 - Rivercatcher, Corwen
  • Go Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Award 2023 - Llandudno Bay Hotel
  • Go Resilience and Innovation Award 2023 - Go Below Underground Adventures
  • Go Marketing and Media Recognition Award 2023 - Bearded Men Adventures, Llangollen
  • Go North Wales Service to Tourism Award 2023 - Welsh Mountain Zoo, Colwyn Bay