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Action call as foreign tourists ‘bypass resort’

Seaside delight But there are claims foregn tourists are bypassing Blackpool. Below  Gary Pretty, of the Blackpool Combined Association

Seaside delight But there are claims foregn tourists are bypassing Blackpool. Below  Gary Pretty, of the Blackpool Combined Association

Foreign tourists brought in a record amount of money to the country last year – but the boom is not being felt on the Fylde coast, new research has claimed.

More than £20bn was pumped into the UK economy thanks to overseas visitors but hoteliers say foreign tourists are more likely to stay in London or the Lake District than come to Blackpool.

The resort, still a top destination for UK tourists, did not feature in a list of the top 50 towns and cities to benefit from overseas holidaymakers released by the Office for National Statistics.

But hotel bosses say Blackpool, which has always relied far more on domestic tourism, could attract a wider range of visitors with the right marketing approach.

Mark Wilson, managing director of Sleepwell Hotels, which owns the Carousel, on New South Promenade, said the figures give reason to be optimistic.

He said: “From our experience, we don’t see a huge amount of overseas visitors coming into Blackpool.

“Where you see them, particularly Americans or the Japanese, what they tend to be going for is English heritage and history rather than a seaside holiday.

“But anything that drives holidaymakers in nationally to the UK has to be a good thing.

“I was in Edinburgh last week and I wouldn’t had that down as somewhere you would see a huge range of foreign tourists but it was packed with them – the question is how do we get more of that?”

Two North West cities appeared in the top five list of destinations for foreign visitors, with Manchester and Liverpool making a combined £630m from them last year.

And hotel bosses said Blackpool needs to find a way to encourage those tourists to take a trip to the seaside.

Gary Pretty, chairman of the Blackpool Combined Association, which represents traders and hoteliers, said: “People might be visiting Blackpool but they certainly aren’t staying here.

“When people come from abroad they tend to stay down south and don’t really come north. We have got to let them know what we have got.”

The figure comes after The Gazette revealed passenger numbers at Blackpool Airport had soared by 27,000 last year.

The airport is due to start flying to two new destinations – Menorca from next month and Reus in 2015 – sparking hopes that the figures will continue to increase.

Some 262,280 passengers flew via Blackpool in 2013.

 

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