The Welsh seaside resort that's losing its reasons to visit as hit by closures and mishaps

Rhyl Waterfront. Picture showing the investment into the promenade area.
-Credit: (Image: Ian Cooper/North Wales Daily Pos)


A year ago the situation on the seafront of Rhyl looked very different. The promenade boasted a £15m waterpark and a much loved aquarium with hopes they would soon be joined by the Skyflyer attraction and a re-booted Queens Market.

But the hoped for launch of the balloon airship never happened after being beset by problems - with the attraction finally scrapped in October after storm damage. Then in November came the news that the SeaQuarium - which attracted 80,000 visitors a year - was closing permanently as a result of the ongoing Coastal Sea Defence work on Rhyl Promenade.

They say bad luck comes in threes and in December came the news that storms had damaged the roof of the SC2 waterpark - which was opened in 2019. Now it has been confirmed it won't reopen this year - a final blow to the seaside resort.

In addition while the Queens Market redevelopment has been completed it remains empty. The Rhyl Airshow has also been cancelled for this year because the Red Arrows are not available.

It all throws the whole regeneration of Rhyl into crisis, with the resort - already a shadow of the town in its glory years - losing some of the key reasons for tourists to visit. There are still inducements to come - including a wonderful sandy beach, amusements, Ninja Tag and a popular theatre and cinema but there are serious questions over the direction of the seaside town after hopes it had turned a corner.

Jim Jones, chief executive of North Wales Tourism, said: "The announcement of the closure of both the SC2 and the aquarium is indeed concerning for Rhyl. These closures represent a significant loss for the town, as they are key attractions for locals and tourists alike. The failure of the Skyflyer to materialise adds to the disappointment felt by many in Rhyl.

"This series of setbacks means that the town is now left without some of its most important attractions, which could have a noticeable impact on tourism and the local economy, which along with retail is the mainstay of Rhyl's economy. Losing such crucial attractions at the height of the season like the SC2 and the aquarium not only deprives residents of leisure opportunities but also affects the overall vibrancy and appeal of Rhyl as a tourist destination.

"It is crucial to address these closures and work towards regenerating the town's tourism sector to ensure its long-term sustainability and prosperity, as there is very little else without the tourism sector."

Shadow Minister for North Wales, Darren Millar MS said: "Rhyl was once a bustling tourist town with so much to keep families entertained, but sadly this is no longer the case. When SC2 first opened to visitors in 2019, I was hopeful that it would be the start of the town’s return to its glory days, but regrettably this has not been the case and in the past couple of years we have seen nothing but the closure of attractions and failed ventures in the town.

“Earlier this year the town lost the popular Seaquarium, the new Queen’s Market building, which cost a staggering £12.6 million, remains empty, and children were left devastated when the popular park on the promenade was closed to accommodate the sea defence works.

“It seems that nothing is being properly thought through by the current Labour-led County Council and as a result this once thriving seaside town is losing visitors in droves. Neighbouring Towyn and Prestatyn are thriving, and Rhyl could be too with the right vision and determination to succeed.

“It has one of the best beaches in Wales and there remains some great businesses, such as Harker’s Amusements and the Kite Surf Café, but people looking to come here for the day or for a holiday need to know there will be plenty to keep them occupied in all weathers. The closure of SC2 for the remainder of this year will undoubtedly hit the town hard with people going elsewhere instead.

“It is a great shame that Rhyl lost its popular paddling pool to SC2, it should never have been allowed to happen. If it was still a stand-alone attraction, at least families could flock there this summer. I know I am not the only one who has been gravely disappointed by the lack of progress in Rhyl in recent years. Residents are sick of the excuses from Denbighshire Leisure and Denbighshire County Council, they are sick of the lack of progress, and they are sick of reading negative press reports about a town they were once proud to call home.”

Rhyl East County Cllr Justine Evans added: “I was extremely disappointed to learn that SC2 will not be open this summer and for the remainder of 2024. How on earth can we expect people to want to visit our town if there is nothing here for them to do?

“As I responded to Denbighshire Leisure on the announcement of the closure of SC2, anyone who does visit Rhyl this year is unlikely to come back!”

Speaking when they announced the SC2 closure, Jamie Groves, Managing Director of Denbighshire Leisure Ltd, said: "The last thing we wanted, as a company, was to be closed during our peak season, especially after the past three years of constant disruption to our business caused by various extreme weather incidents.

"We are very proud of the fact we offer an exceptional service, and that we have not only survived but grown, while many leisure companies across the UK have suffered badly. So please remember our workforce and their families read comments on social media. Be kind - we are all in this together and we are just as disappointed as our customers that our waterpark is not open this summer. We will continue to provide updates as and when they become available."