THEY say every cloud has a silver lining and this summer, one of the wettest on record, has had plenty of clouds.
But that has not put a dampener on the fun to be found in Blackpool and the resort has had a bumper year according to tourism chiefs.
Millions of holidaymakers flocked to The Tower and took in the sights of the Golden Mile during a bumper summer of events in the resort.
Visitor numbers were boosted as the Fylde coast played host to a number of huge events including The Open golf championship at Royal Lytham, and a concert by Sir Elton John to launch the Tower Festival Headland.
Iain Hawkins, head of Blackpool’s Merlin attractions which include The Tower and Madame Tussauds, said: “It has been an interesting year for us because it was the first time we had all eight Merlin attractions open for the whole year.
“The summer has been hampered by the rain, but we are lucky in that our attractions are indoor ones so we have done well. For example visitor numbers have been up at Madame Tussauds by 20 per cent, the Sea Life Centre by 15 per cent and The Tower Circus up by six per cent.
“In Blackpool the tourism groups have set up things such as the Big Ticket and the Resort Pass and both have done really really well. It is to provide guests with a good value package to the attractions like they do in Florida.
“Big Ticket for our eight attractions has gone down a real storm.
“It makes people go to all the attractions and gives them options. It keeps visitors in the town for longer and brings them back because it is valid for three months.
“We get a lot of visitors from places like Manchester and when they come for the day and get a Big Ticket they go home, tell their friends and come back again later.
“It is good for the town, and it is family focussed.
“In the past there has been an imbalance towards stag and hen dos and drinking.
“They have their place but we have all been trying to regain the balance and with the initiatives at the Zoo and the Pleasure Beach’s Nickelodeon Land we are all doing our bit.”
Blackpool Pleasure Beach said the second half of the year had been better.
A spokesman for the park added: “The attraction was affected by the bad weather during the first few summer months, but has enjoyed a better August and autumn season.
“Once again, our seasonal shows have proved to be successful, with more guests being able to experience Hot Ice, children enjoying Dora the Explorer Live, and new shows including High Jinx and the amazing Wow! Show.
“Nickelodeon Land has increased the popularity with families and, with Wallace and Gromit’s Thrill-O-Matic ride next year, we are looking forward to the 2013 season.”
Blackpool Zoo said it had its busiest season on record.
Marketing manager Della Belk added: “We are delighted despite the unpredictable weather we have enjoyed our busiest season on record during our 40th anniversary year.
“We believe this is a reflection of the continued investment as well as positive word of mouth, ever increasing membership numbers and innovative marketing.
“People have been particularly intrigued to visit the new Wolf Ridge enclosure as well as meet our other striking additions, the giant anteaters.”
John Child, manager of the Sandcastle Water Park, said visitor numbers were up by about eight per cent compared to last year, with revenue up about 15 per cent. He said the £2.5m investment which saw two new Aztec-themed rides open in February, had helped the park.
The tourism chief added: “Our admission numbers are up and spend per head is up.
“Every day in the summer we reached our capacity and we had to start opening earlier and closing later.”
The complex is now closed until the February half-term while new boilers are fitted.
But the bad weather hit some operators severely.
Suzzana Edge, who has three donkey pitches on Blackpool beach, told The Gazette: “The season was a complete write off because every time we went out it rained.
“On top of that we have to deal with the tides, and often when the weather was good, the tide was in so we still couldn’t go out.
“We’ll be back next year though – the donkeys are so much a part of Blackpool.”
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