Wales tourism: English holidaymaker in north Wales says ‘hostile’ locals are spoiling her trip

The woman shared her comments in an online camping forum. Credit: PA

A holidaymaker visiting north Wales claimed she had a “hostile” camping experience because she was English.

The woman said the campsite and its owners were “nice” but said she had experienced problems in shops and restaurants.After two days camping in Pwllheli, Gwynedd, she said her reception was so negative that she was considering moving to another campsite. The woman alleged that in 20 years of visiting Wales she had never experienced such hostility.Her claims, posted on a UK camping group, were met with widespread disbelief by locals and other holidaymakers. 

'If you don’t respond in Welsh it’s no service'

The woman wrote: “Has anyone here been to Pwllheli? We are currently on day two of seven in Pwllheli and the campsite is fine the owners are nice.“But it’s the local people in shops and restaurants. They are very hostile towards the English.“I’ve been travelling Wales for 20 years and never come across it before. Yesterday we went out looking for something to eat and they speak in Welsh and if you don’t respond in Welsh it’s no service.”

Some people responding to the woman's post said they believe locals struggle with summer influxes of visitors and the impact on facilities. Credit: PA

The woman claimed she had to visit a local supermarket to ask where, as an English speaker, she could find somewhere to eat in the area. “I’m at the point where I’m not sure if we should try and get in another site somewhere else,” she said. “We are booked in Bala from next Friday, so going home isn’t an option.”

She continued: “We had a static in a small village where they speak Welsh and are always lovely. The one lady even tried teaching me a few words. I guess my point is I’m not offended by them speaking in Welsh in front of me.”

Her post was later deleted after it attracted lots of feedback. Most people said they had never experienced anything of the sort in the area and accused the woman of imagining hostility.

In a separate forum where the post was shared, one person commented: “I was in [Pwllheli] two weeks ago. Me, an English-speaking Welsh person with an obvious Welsh accent. I found all the shopkeepers fine, no grief at all because I spoke in English to them and, if anything, speaking Welsh could be more expected of me.”

Some people claimed some Welsh residents were in fact “anti-English”. Others said second homes and the housing crisis were sources of resentment, with locals struggling with summer influxes of visitors and the impact they had on facilities.But others were shocked by the woman’s claims, accusing her of “astounding arrogance”.

“What nonsense,” said one man. “I frequently visit Wales, I don’t speak the language. I have a London accent. I’ve never experienced any hostility like this.“The people in South Wales are the friendliest you will find anywhere. In North Wales they are maybe a bit shy but not at all hostile.”

'English paranoia about the Welsh language'

A Welsh-speaking outdoor sports enthusiast believes “paranoia” lies at the root of the problem. Over the years many of his English customers have asked if locals switch to Welsh when visitors enter a shop or cafe.“We are too quick to assume everything is about us,” he said. “Nine times out of 10 times strangers haven’t given us a second thought.“I’ve never encountered hostility towards me, my friends or my English wife. I have encountered English paranoia about the language very many times."I expect some visitors do experience rudeness, and I’m sorry about that. I’m NOT sorry about using the language that I love.”