PLANS to add extra bank holidays and create lighter nights have been welcomed by traders.
Parliament is currently considering a tourism strategy which could shift the May Day bank holiday to October in an effort to support traders and hoteliers.
The bid, advocated by Blackpool South MP Gorden Marsden, also suggests replacing May Day by making St George’s Day into a national holiday.
He said: “Blackpool was the first town to consider extending the holiday season, with the Illuminations.
“Therefore I supported this from the start as we need an extension to the half term holiday in October, to coincide with half term.
“We need to do everything we can to support the visitor economy, which will also benefit residents, and this will certainly help.
“The Bill has been widely supported in Parliament already.”
Moves to change British Summer Time are also back on the agenda, with a Private Member’s Daylight Saving Bill waiting to go to committee stage.
This would see clocks moving forward by two hours during the summer months and one hour forward from the current time in the winter.
Daryl Lowe, manager of Conways Toymaster on Birley Street, said: “Trade does tend to die off around October, so it would make a huge amount of difference to us.
“People don’t want to go away twice in May, so moving one from May to October, or even adding a holiday, would be great.
“Similarly, with extra daylight hours, people get intimidated to come out if it’s dark at 3.30pm, so if it was lighter they would be able to shop for longer.”
Analysts have claimed the idea could be worth £3.5bn a year to the economy, with 80,000 new jobs created because attractions and the tourism trade would be able to stay open later.
Tom Kennedy, operations manager for the Big Blue Hotel, said: “It would be great to get another bank holiday in October.
“This year especially, all the bank holidays are very close together, with May holidays and the royal wedding in April.
“People might have spent too much to be able to afford to go away for every bank holiday, but by October they will have saved up again.”
But Alan Cavill, assistant director with responsibility for Illuminations, has previously aired his concerns families would not want to travel out later at night to view the Illuminations if there is a change to British Summer Time.
He said: “The Illuminations are very much a family attraction and I think this proposal could seriously impact on people’s ability to experience them.”