MORE THAN 130,000 visitors enjoyed this year’s National Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale.

A total of 136,933 people visited the Maes throughout the week to join in the celebration of the Welsh language which was expected to bring more than £6 million into the area.

Although numbers were down on last year’s overall total in Bala,164,689, Ebbw Vale saw a record day on Sunday when visitor numbers reached 25,097, the highest they had been on a single day in eight years - boosted by the give-away of free tickets.

A number of traders in the Ebbw Vale town centre told the Argus the festival actually resulted in a loss of sales.

But Blaenau Gwent council leader Cllr Des Hillman said: "A lot of the people who were on site said they had been up to the town as well and they made an effort to go to the town. We did what we could to promote the town and had a couple of events launched in the town centre."

Cllr Hillman said he believed more than 30,000 people visited the Eisteddfod on the first Sunday, when it was free entry, around 5,000 more than the organiser's figures.

He said: "The coverage for Blaenau Gwent was immense. A lot of people were saying that they would be back because they had not realised what a great area it was. It was all about raising the profile of Blaenau Gwent and that's what it did."

Richard Davies, who chaired the locally-based Eisteddfod executive committee, said organisers were not expecting to attract to the same number of visitors as previous events in Cardiff and Bala, but they had succeeded in what they set out to do.

Mr Davies said: “When the Eisteddfod went to Bala there was a ready-made Welsh speaking community there and an established Eisteddfod site.

“We knew that we weren’t going to get the same number of visitors from the outset.”

He said the Eisteddfod was successful in opening the doors to a different and newer audience, with many first time visitors, and also in opening the Welsh culture up to a new group of people.

Mr Davies said: “It’s showed that the Welsh language is not exclusive and it’s changed people’s perceptions of the Valleys. A lot of the people I have spoken to say they didn’t realise how pretty the South Wales valleys are.”

Previous total attendance figures (not including 2nd Sunday)

Ebbw Vale, 2010 - 136,933

Bala, 2009 - 184,347

Cardiff, 2008 - 177,120

Mold, 2007 - 173,552

Swansea, 2006 -175,560

Snowdonia, 2005 - 178,540

Newport, 2004 - 165,865

Meifod, Powys, 2003 - 176,402

Tyddewi/St Davids, Pembrokeshire, 2002 - 144,220