NATIONAL tourism chiefs today said they were “disappointed and confused” by a town’s decision to create an advert which took a pot shot at Blackpool.
The plug for an arts festival in the Lincolnshire resort of Skegness showed a graffiti-covered wall alongside The Tower wrapped in scaffolding.
It was accompanied by a headline advising people if they wanted ‘views to remember’ they should visit the east coast.
East Lindsey District Council, which commissioned the picture – taken from an abandoned walkway above TK Maxx on Bank Hey Street – asked for the advert to be placed in yesterday’s Gazette.
However, we turned down the ad.
Gazette Editor Jon Rhodes said: “I’m sure the arts festival is great for tourism in Skegness and good luck to it – but for a local council to sanction such a cheap shot at Blackpool is somewhat baffling and one I had no hesitation in turning down.
“Blackpool, like any town and city in the UK, has areas which need improvement, we all accept that, and I’m sure Skegness has a few of its own.
“Given the funding East Lindsey District Council clearly has to splash out on this campaign I hope it has left some cash in the pot for street cleaning and graffiti removal as the state of Skegness is now undoubtedly going to be under the microscope.”
The Skegness arts festival is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Arts Council of England.
But Sarah Long, head of communications at Visit England, said: “We are confused and disappointed by the advert. Our job is to grow tourism in England. I’m not sure what they are trying to achieve with this marketing strategy.
“We want towns and cities to continue on their own strengths and not criticise others.”
Blackpool attracts more than 13 million visitors a year compared to the four million who visit Skegness.
And the advert was today labelled as “jealousy” by Blackpool town crier Barry McQueen.
He said: “They have a cheek. Every town has graffiti and rubbish. We are still Britain’s number one seaside resort, we always have been and always will be. This all boils down to jealousy.”
Claire Smith, president of hoteliers association StayBlackpool, said the advert was “desperate”.
She added: “When I first saw it I was absolutely appalled because it’s not the way I expect people to behave.
“It smacks of desperation and dirty tricks and it doesn’t have to be like that.”
The Skegness campaign also targets south coast resort Brighton in a similar vein.
Coun Doreen Stephenson, leader of East Lindsey District Council, said the aim was to create a “friendly rivalry” between the resorts.
She told The Gazette: “We have respect for Blackpool and Brighton and this is just a piece of friendly rivalry which we hope will be seen as such.
“We are promoting Skegness but it has put Blackpool in the frame as well.
“There may be good come out of it for both of us.”
Tourism chiefs at Blackpool Council have refused to be drawn into a media debate on the issue.
But Coun Terry Knowles, the leader of East Lindsey District Council’s opposition, said “My council should be conducting itself in a way that is conducive to fair play.”
What the people of Lincolnshire make of the advert
Ben Peel – Does seem a rather strange way to advertise itself as there are plenty of eyesore spots in Skegness.
Tracy Turner – To be fair think we ALL have our areas we’d rather hide! Here’s hoping Blackpool doesn’t return the favour.
Helen E. Anderson - I’m not impressed. It’s such a shame they feel the need to be negative about other places rather be positive about what we have to offer. I know times are hard but this will do us no favours.
Gina Foster – I don’t think it’s such a great idea to pull other places to bits when this town is far from perfect. Better to advertise what we have than to put others down.
Shaun Wathall – Unbelievable! What on earth were they thinking of and to think someone has probably been paid thousands to come up with the idea, what a joke.
Julie Drayton – Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
Steve Banham – I think the pot is calling the kettle black.
(Comments taken from East Lindsey’s District Council’s arts festival Facebook page)