Golf proves driving force

Rory McIlroy at The Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club.

Rory McIlroy at The Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club.

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TOURISM chiefs in Fylde are hoping to build on the success of 2012 which saw the area enjoy the global spotlight.

Around 183,000 people descended on the borough as Royal Lytham St Annes hosted The Open Golf Championships – 3,000 more than when the tournament last came to the Fylde in 2001.

The Lytham Proms concerts are now an annual fixture with crowds of more than 50,000 flocking to the three-day festival which this year featured artists Olly Murs and Alfie Boe.

Coun Susan Fazakerley, Fylde Council cabinet member for leisure and culture, said the challenge now was to build on these successes.

She added: “Tourism is the most important industry for Lytham and St Annes.

“It employs a large number of people and brings visitors in who spend their money in our shops, restaurants, hotels etc.

“2012 has been a very good season for us. The Open was a huge boost in all manner of ways.

“We now want to build on this, and are hoping to attract other big events in other sporting areas. There are one or two things on the cards and we’re always pleased to hear from people with ideas. For example, the kite festival has been a success this year and is going ahead again next year.”

Paul Rollings, president of the Holiday Association of Lytham St Annes, said hotels had a good year, although achieving profit margins was increasingly difficult due to rising costs.

He said: “Our clinetele is mainly older, but we’re getting more families who want to enjoy the attractions of Blackpool but prefer to stay somewhere quieter.”

Ribby Hall Village at Wrea Green says investment in its facilities has boosted visitor numbers, with occupancy at the recently opened Spa Hotel on the site up by 26 per cent in 2012 compared to the previous year.

The destination’s Short Breaks and Holidays portfolio has seen occupancy levels increase by six per cent.

The complex, which includes holiday cabins, sports facilities and landscaped grounds, employs more than 300 staff.

Managing director Paul Harrison told The Gazette: “Throughout 2012 we have continued to grow, strengthen and improve our business.

“This is due to everyone’s hard work and dedication which is the main reason we are seeing record levels of business.

“We are continually hearing and receiving great comments from guests and clients relating to our fantastic staff and front line service which is so important.”

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