Llandudno Pier, the longest in Wales, has always acted as an example of a great British seaside destination. Ahead of the summer season in the Victorian resort, Coinslot spoke to pier owner Adam Williams about contending with government regulations and building the future of the area.
Llandudno Pier has served as a North Wales landmark and a centre for amusement and tourism since its completion in 1886.
Although the Grade II listed structure has benefited from a constant stream of visitors since its Victorian heyday, thanks to severe government regulations, the arcades at either end of the pier have almost been a victim of their own success.
“There are certainly too many costs,” said Pier Amusements owner Adam Williams. “What tends to happen is people look at the most successful thing of its time then decide to tax it,instead of thinking, ‘right, well that sector’s growing, let’s support it.’”
“They should say let’s make it financially viable going forwards, let’s grow the tourism coming to North Wales, let’s push more money into it, get more businesses into it, create more jobs, and thrive, rather than thinking let’s do what the Chancellor does and tax it.”
Williams also noted that, alongside the government costs demanded, amusement arcades all around the country must balance the taxes with additional investments in machines and business development.
“We invested heavily last year,” said Williams. “We invested a bit less this year but concentrated on redemption again, because as always, a lot will depend on the weather going forwards.”
However, one aspect which may make the future for both Llandudno Pier and the town itself brighter is the additional investment Williams is spearheading in the development of the area’s employment resources.
“We’ve been working closely with the local college and we’re looking to put courses together to support the tourism industry. Not just our industry but the hoteliers and businesses as well, and putting two year and three year diplomas in place.”
The decision, safeguarding a future workforce for the tourism industry, will also benefit the Pier, reducing what Williams calls the “holiday stop-gap” approach to employment in the arcade industry.
“There is a course to do with our business, therefore it is a career and it is something to be taken seriously. Then,for us, we’re getting people that know something about the job before they get it. The business is more serious now,it’s complicated, it’s technical, it certainly is a ladder that you can climb.”
That technical side of the industry has recently focused on the response to the government’s Triennial Review, something which Williams notes has demanded changes from the independent businesses, adding “there is a little swing towards us, but not big enough.”
We’ve been the same for a long long time. Obviously we’ll only put the stakes and prizes that make economic sense to our way of playing and our punter.”
The result of the review, however, dictates only part of the onward development for Llandudno Pier, which Williams believes will always find success, utilising its reputation,location and a belief in the future of the industry.
“I’m always optimistic,” added Williams. “North Wales is the best place in the world, you take every day as it comes and put your best foot forward.”