Wales’ Best Places competition

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image of Aberaeron from beach


The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) have announced the short list for its Wales’ Best Places competition.

The purpose behind the competition is to celebrate some of the most attractive and inspiring places in the country. This is the third in a row, the first being to celebrate Scottish places, the second England and now it is the turn of Wales.

The shortlist consists of Aberaeron, Caernarfon, Cardiff Bay Inner Harbour, Denbigh, the Gower, The Hays in Cardiff, (a shopping area) Llandudno Promenade and Mostyn Street, the town centre of Merthyr Tydfil, Snowdonia and Tenby. You are the decider of who wins and you can vote up until the 30th of September by clicking here or going to

image of Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle –

It seems churlish to criticise any competition that draws attention to places that people might not consider visiting but I have three reservations about this. The first is how on earth can you judge between a shopping area and the whole of Snowdonia or the Gower?  Can you judge the attraction of the Inner Harbour of Cardiff Bay with a complete town like any of the four listed? The choice of the prom and Mostyn Street in Llandudno is likely to appeal to almost the opposite of those who would select the Gower.

Would it have been better not to have a shortlist and let people write in the name of the place they wished? Would it have been better to create categories like Best Seaside Resort or Best Shopping Area? In categories at least you could judge similar destinations as opposed the current choice which is like comparing apples with pears.

My second criticism is of the voting. No, you can’t vote twice – I tried and nor can you vote for more than one destination. But there is no way to preclude well-organised destinations from lobbying residents, employees anyone else to vote for them. The destination that shouts loudest may win. The destination with the largest number of people living in the chosen area might win.

image of Tenby

Tenby harbour with the old RAF building on the quay.

In some travel awards, I receive dozens of e-mails from nominees urging me to vote for them. Some are large, multi-national companies with deeper pockets than others who are smaller. That doesn’t make for an even playing field.

My final reservation is how to choose a winner.  I don’t know all of these areas well enough to compare so I chose based on what I know which is to the detriment of those I don’t.  Surely people will only vote for those areas that they know best? If they know each one only then can they make a considerate judgement. Will voting follow the area that sees the largest number of visitors or footfall in a year?

But as I wrote earlier, I probably shouldn’t be churlish. At least the RTPI is not the sort of body that is running this competition to gain publicity for itself.

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