TRADERS at Barry Island have witnessed a surge in visitors following the broadcast of the third and final series of award-winning sitcom Gavin and Stacey.

But a parliamentary candidate claims the Vale Council has done little to capitalise on the nationwide success of the show broadcast on BBC One and continually repeated on digital channels.

Traders who spoke to Plaid hopeful Dr Ian Johnson stressed the need for permanent holiday accommodation so tourists could stay and spend money in the town – rather than return home following day-trips. Marco Zeraschi, who owns Marco’s Café that featured prominently in series three, said the reaction had been 'bonkers'.

He said: "Visitor numbers have definitely gone up.

"If you could see the amount of people taking photos.

"It’s been absolutely manic and that’s due to Gavin and Stacey."

Neil Clemo, known as Boofy – owner of Boofy’s The Codfather of Sole – said he had had 15 texts and 20 Facebook messages following the final scene in which all four main characters sat on the Western Shelter wall with his chip shop on prominent display.

He said: "I had people from all over the country texting me.

"You can’t pay for advertising like that and all it cost me was a couple of bags of chips and a nice smile!"

He added: "Barry Island has had a lot of reaction as a whole and there’s been a knock-on effect for Barry, but as far as regeneration of Barry Island is concerned I think that’s the last thing on their (the Council’s) mind."

Dr Ian Johnson said the success of the final series needed to act as a catalyst for tourism development in the town.

He said: "Over 9 million viewers watched Gavin and Stacey on Christmas Day on BBC 1, making it the fourth most watched programme of the day with nearly 1 in 6 people in the UK tuning in.

"They saw an episode that highlighted Barry’s tourist attractions – our wonderful sandy beach and the fairground.

"Featuring in such a hit show is the sort of advertisement that money can’t buy, but we must make sure that the opportunities offered to promote Barry aren’t wasted."

He added: "The traders welcomed the extra trade that the series brings in throughout the year, but are disappointed that the connections haven’t been better exploited.

"They are also disappointed that the Island lacks a hotel which can accommodate families and would have people stay in Barry for several days.

"Gavin and Stacey shows the massive tourism advantages that Barry Island holds over many other places, but we must make it count if we are to re-invigorate the Island and create a large number of long-term jobs in Barry.

"It would be highly disappointing if the council failed to make the most of this."

Vale Council Operational Manager (leisure and tourism) Dave Knevett said: “The council worked closely with the Gavin and Stacey production company, Baby Cow Productions, to ensure that filming of the third series went smoothly, giving them total access to Barry Island and the surrounding area.

“We’re keen to build on our links with Baby Cow and we are looking at strategies to fully develop Barry Island’s links with the series.

"It has to be remembered that Baby Cow own the name and branding for Gavin and Stacey and any use of the brand has to be formally agreed by them."

MILLIONS of viewers tuned in to watch the last ever episode of Gavin and Stacey, which aired on New Year's Day.

The finale featured guest appearances by Noel from Hearsay and John Prescott, and was the fifth most watched programme on the day – beaten only by the two episodes of Eastenders, Coronation Street and Doctor Who.

The final episode of the Barry-filmed comedy attracted an average of 8.7 million viewers, peaking at 9 million, just below its Christmas Day audience of 9.2 million.

The figures were close behind the 10.4 million viewers who watched Dr Who, despite the fact that the DVD of the final series of Gavin and Stacey went on sale in November.

A delighted BBC spokesperson said: "Alongside a huge night for EastEnders with the Masood wedding and an emotional end to the final series of Gavin and Stacey, BBC offered something for all audiences to enjoy on New Year's Day."