Tourism leaders today hailed this year’s October half-term as one of the busiest ever as visitors piled into Blackpool to enjoy what is traditionally the last big week of the season.
Long queues were reported for attractions including The Tower, car parks were full and hoteliers said they had been forced to turn people away.
Iain Hawkins, boss of Merlin’s attractions in Blackpool including the Tower, Madame Tussauds, the Dungeons and the Sea Life Centre, said 2014 had been the busiest year since the company came to the town four years ago.
He said: “We keep breaking records with regard to the number of visitors our attractions are getting.
“There have been long queues but our staff have really looked after people while they waited.
“It was busy last October half-term but this year it is a level above. The resort and the council have pulled together, and the television advertising is changing the perception people have and making them come back to Blackpool.”
A spokesman for Blackpool Pleasure Beach said: “The attraction has had a very busy half-term with thousands of guests experiencing an extension to our popular Vampire Pleasure Beach with nine Halloween-themed days and additional activities taking place across the park.”
Della Belk, marketing manager at Blackpool Zoo, said: “We have had a fantastic’ half-term here at Blackpool Zoo and it has been brilliant to see so many families making the most of the last holiday of the year before Christmas.”
Hoteliers have also benefited from the influx of visitors.
Susan Potter, of the Ardwick House Hotel on York Street, said: “I have been in Blackpool for eight years and this has been the busiest season. I have had to turn people away.”
Lee Beckett, of Chaplins Hotel on Albert Road, said: “It has been really busy, the busiest since we opened six years ago.
“We have been completely full from Monday to Friday.”
Coun Graham Cain, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for tourism and leisure, said: “It’s been incredibly busy throughout the resort all week, which must have been a huge boost to many businesses. We’ve seen record levels of footfall at some points during the early part of the Illuminations season and it’s apparent this has carried on into the half-term week.
“Most council car parks have been at full capacity since last weekend, too, and our staff have been extraordinarily busy assisting visitors.
“Hotels and guest accommodation providers have spoken to us about how busy the week has been while the Tourist Information Centre has been inundated with visitors looking for accommodation and purchasing attraction tickets.
“This is all testament to the powerful and enduring pull the Illuminations have, the quality of our tourism offer and the fantastic regeneration work that has gone on.”