Day-trippers bonanza amid midweek slump

Blackpool Air Show

Blackpool Air Show

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With the school holidays now in full swing, Blackpool’s tourism industry is pinning its hopes on the next few weeks to boost profits.

Figures revealed this week claimed 17 million people visited the resort last year – and operators are hoping for the same success, and maybe more, in 2015.

Iain Hawkins

Iain Hawkins

But while events like the Blackpool Air Show last Sunday and Monday drew in tens of thousands of people, some business owners remain concerned about mid-week trade and numbers staying over.

Gary Pretty, chairman of the Blackpool Combined Association, said: “There are a lot of day-trippers and last weekend the Air Show and the Rebellion Punk Festival were fantastic.

“Everyone I speak to says while the weekends are good, it is still quiet in mid-week, so something needs to be done to address that.

“It’s also still mainly day-trippers. We get the repeat guests at the hotels, but not as many new customers. We still need more reasons to make people stay overnight.”

Helen Mansell, vice-president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said the level of overnight bookings “was holding its own”.

She said: “It is busy at the moment now the kids are off school, but it needs to be because it wasn’t great in June and July.

“People are staying for a few days. Events like the Air Show mainly bring in day trippers, but they are also something for our guests to go and see.”

Television adverts as part of the £1m Blackpool’s Back campaign, which was mainly funded by donations of £350,000 from the council and Merlin Entertainments, are currently running in Scotland and the north of England in a bid to attract visitors in.

Iain Hawkins, head of the Merlin cluster of attractions in Blackpool which includes the Tower and Madame Tussauds, said: “The first quarter of this year did seem quiet, partly due to bad weather, but it has picked up.

“We had the start of the Scottish holidays and now we have the English holidays and people are enjoying trips to the seaside resorts.

“The Blackpool’s Back campaign has been huge this year and the new website is a one-stop shop for people wanting attraction tickets and accommodation.

“We want people to be pre-booked in because whatever the weather that means they are coming anyway.

“We have got quality attractions in Blackpol and a £2m investment in the Illuminations this year.

“The town is buzzing at the moment. It’s a long season, but things look promising from what we are seeing so far.”

John Child, managing director of Sandcastle water park on the Prom, said they were up by about four per cent on last year, which had also been a good year.

He said: “Each day we have queues of a couple of hours and we are now opening longer to cope.”

At the other end of the scale, Suzanna Edge who operates donkey rides on the beaches, said Easter and May had been “awful” but trade had improved in the last few weeks.

She said: “The tides and the weather were just wrong, but the last week has been brilliant.

“I have never, ever seen the Promenade as packed as it was on Sunday for the Air Show.

“If the weather keeps good that will make a big difference and hopefully the rest of the season will be good.”