Welsh whisky and gin galore for Llandudno’s Swiss twin

March 18, 2024 - 590 views

Welsh whisky, beer and cheese could soon be on the menu in Switzerland thanks to a North Wales seaside resort twinning with a world famous skiing village.

New trade links are being established after Llandudno and Champéry, part of the giant Porte du Soleil skiing area, celebrated their new partnership at a special ceremony at the Swiss Embassy in London as part of Wales in London Week.

The town between the Great Orme and Little Orme headlands and the winter sports village 3,000 feet up in the Alps have been linked since 2022, thanks in part to the Welsh seaside town’s artificial ski slope which elite young Swiss skiers have been using for summer practice.

At the same time the Welsh Skiing Championships have found a new home in Champéry and the joint Twinning Association have been active in strengthening the relationship.

The President of the Twinning Association and current Mayor of Llandudno, Councillor Greg Robbins, led a six-strong delegation from the town to a reception at the embassy.

There a joint presentation was made and the Mayor has hailed the relationship as an opportunity to build business, cultural, sporting and leisure links.

He said: “The link dates back to 2018 before Covid got in the way and delayed things but we set up exploratory exchanges in 2020 and we were twinned on August 1, 2022, and the relationship has been growing stronger ever since.

“It’s amazing really. They’re a very well known skiing destination and Llandudno is the Queen of the Welsh resorts.

“We’re seeing the benefits because the company which owns the ski slope has brought it up to national standard and that’s supported the link to Champéry.

“There is the potential for many more links. Llandudno is an important tourism destination, and the Swiss have some of the best-trained tourist staff in the world so there the opportunity to upskill our people with exchange visits.

“Post-Brexit this has been difficult but there have been changes in the rules which should make it easier going forward and there are so many opportunities for schools and businesses to create positive relationships.

“There are a lot of Swiss-owned companies in North Wales and we would also like to see this relationship foster more opportunities for our small businesses to export to Switzerland and the Department of Business and Foreign Trade are being very helpful as have the British Embassy in Bern.

“From this area we have Snowdonia cheese out there and we have the Wild Horse Brewery and the Penderyn and Aber Falls Distilleries as well and they have been very well received.”

Zachary Fournier, General Director of the Palladium, a sports and cultural centre in Champéry, is also enthusiastic about the link and said: “We were looking for a Welsh town to twin with and both Llandudno and Champéry have a big and deep history with tourism.

“Our local skiing club also have a racing section and last time we sent 16 of the kids who race to Llandudno to practice on the dry slope.

“The facilities were great and they really enjoyed it and it was a great place to practice but they also wanted to discover the area and they loved it.

“Your mountains might be smaller but they’re also beautiful and charming.

North Wales is an incredible place and each time we come we find great places to visit.

“And when you get to the top of your mountains you can see the sea and you can’t do that in Switzerland.

“We have a great relationship with Llandudno and what’s important is to get young people engaged and we are looking at ways to have schools participate in exchange visits.

“Champéry is not just big in skiing but also in mountain biking and we are hosting the European Championships this summer and the World Championships in September.

“North Wales is also important for mountain biking and hopefully now with electric-bikes we can make the mountains here and in Champéry accessible to more people.

“The twinning works because people really want to do it and enjoy it. It’s the emotion.

“Every time we meet we find new things we have in common – last time we were there we found that Welsh people emigrated to Argentina in the 19th century at a time when a lot of people from Switzerland also went there.”

Jim Jones, the chief executive of North Wales Tourism, was also part of the Llandudno delegation and is delighted with the progress already made in the twinning initiative.

He said: “The collaboration between the two regions has yielded remarkable results in a short period of time and the event at the Swiss Embassy underscores the dedication and robust partnership established between the two communities.

“It’s been a real collective effort involving the public and private sectors in Llandudno and Champéry and aimed at raising the profiles of these picturesque regions, facilitating cultural and sporting exchanges and exploring new economic opportunities.

“The event at the Embassy is a testament to the shared commitment and strength of a great partnership and a beautiful relationship.”