The number of visitors to Gwynedd Council’s various harbours has shown a dramatic increase in 2021 – but also the levels of abuse towards staff and breaches of Coronavirus restrictions – a new report has revealed.
Almost certainly a result of increasing numbers deciding to “staycation” over foreign travel during the pandemic, and following a barren 2020, the past year has seen signs of recovery following a decade of generally dwindling numbers of bertholders at the county’s six facilities.
But the report also noted some visitors “ignoring” Covid-19 restrictions, littering and staff being subject to abuse during the busy summer season.
Porthmadog, which only had 64 bertholders in 2020, has seen the biggest increase with 112 of the 238 available moorings now being occupied (47.1%) – but still down on the 130 recorded in 2019.
While Harbwr Pwllheli’s figures remain unchanged (50 of 81 being taken up), 378 vessels are now moored at Hafan Pwllheli which marks 92.4% of its 409 capacity, also up on the 299 based there in 2019.
It was a similar story in Aberdyfi where 76 of the 120 moorings were taken up, compared to 47 in 2020, and Barmouth where 45 of the 140 are taken up, also up on last year’s figure of 31.
The only facility to show an decrease was Caernarfon’s Doc Fictoria, down only slightly to 89 compared to 90 last year, having a capacity of 100.
The report presented to the authority’s Harbour Consultative Committee, noted: “On the whole when comparing all Gwynedd Council Harbours, there has been an increase in the number of customers over the past year.
“The increase in the number of vessels moored in the harbours reflects the gradual release of the Coronavirus lockdown restrictions in Wales.”
While boosting council coffers as well as the local tourist economy, the report also raised concerns that staff were subject to more abuse.
“The harbour has seen a significant number of visitors to the area during this year, caused by the effect of the Coronavirus restrictions on travel abroad,” noted the report compiled by Porthmadog’s harbourmaster.
“The harbour staff have been on constant watch both ashore and afloat, to ensure the safety of persons enjoying the environment, with regular patrols undertaken in the Porthmadog Channel.
“Whilst the vast majority of visitors to the area were respectful of the harbour environment, there was a noticeable increase in the number of incidents of staff subjected to verbal abuse or gestures during the performance of their duties.
“The wanton discharge of litter around the harbour, and the ignorance of the existing Coronavirus epidemic by certain individuals has also been of concern.”
Responding to the figures, a Gwynedd Council spokesperson said: “It is most encouraging to note that the number of boats moored in Gwynedd harbours and marinas has increased in 2021.
“Last year was a difficult year for the marine sector and for mariners in general and we are pleased that confidence has been restored and that sailors are returning to boating.
“We hope that this trend will continue in 2022 and that our customers will continue to enjoy their boating activities on the coast of Gwynedd.”