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Lancashire
Saturday, July 13, 2024

BLACKPOOL BOUNCES BACK IN STYLE!

Blackpool’s tourism industry bounced back in spectacular fashion last year with record-breaking levels of footfall.

Newly-released figures show a huge upsurge in visitor numbers over the final part of the year on the back of a two-month extension of the Illuminations season and the most ambitious Christmas campaign ever staged in the resort.

Today, Cllr Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council and tourism portfolio holder, hailed the figures as “a total vindication” of the decision to invest £1m in events and marketing to kick-start the tourism, retail and hospitality industry as it began to emerge from COVID lockdowns and restrictions from May onwards.

Footfall figures for the town centre and Promenade show exceptional increases across all four months of the autumn/winter season.

The Christmas By The Sea campaign, which ran on the Tower Festival Headland from November 19 to January 3, and included a free skating rink, artificial snowfalls, light projection shows, log cabins, large-scale light installations, and the Star Flyer ride as part of the Winter Gardens Wonderland event, resulted in a 75% increase in footfall on the seafront compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

The additional Winter Wonderland activity around St John’s Square and the Winter Gardens, combined with a heavily-discounted parking offer, resulted in town centre footfall increasing by almost 28% over the same period compared to 2019.

The footfall figures are supported by record amounts of visitor interest recorded on the VisitBlackpool website over the extended Illuminations season with all four months showing huge increases over 2019 (the last full year of tourism activity) and December more than three times the volume of 2019.

There was a similar picture on parking usage during the Christmas campaign with both town centre and Promenade showing large increases in patronage. For most of this period, car parking was offered at a special rate of £1 for three hours across most Council car parks.

Cllr Williams said: “We witnessed extraordinary volumes of people coming into the town centre and on to the Promenade over the final part of the year, and particularly during the Christmas By The Sea campaign.

“As we came out of the pandemic restrictions partway through last year, we were determined to put in place a tourism recovery plan that was of sufficient scale and quality to give our businesses the best possible chance of recouping some of the losses they incurred over two years of COVID disruption.
“The overall results are a total vindication of our investment. The Christmas By The Sea event over several weeks on the Tower Festival Headland clearly captured the public’s imagination and gave us the best Christmas visitor numbers we have seen in living memory.

“What we now need to do is work with our partners to not just replicate what we delivered in 2021, but build on what was a remarkable campaign.”

The Council has already announced that this year’s Illuminations season will once again be extended by two months, starting on September 2 and running through to January 2, 2023.

Discussions are also underway with private sector partners, including the newly-established Tourism BID, to look at a return of the highly-successful Christmas events.

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