A £1m campaign – including prime time TV advertising – has been launched as part of a bold bid to attract millions of new visitors to Blackpool.
Attractions operator Merlin Entertainment has joined forces with the town hall to fund the ‘Blackpool’s Back’ campaign. Millions of TV viewers are set to see the advert which showcases recent multi-million pound investment in the Promenade, The Tower and the trams.
Iain Hawkins, head of all Merlin’s Blackpool attractions, said: “The message has got to get out there that we have changed and Blackpool is back.”
The TV publicity will be linked to a new website where people can book tickets, find accommodation and see what events are coming up.
The other elements of the campaign are the use of social media, and inviting celebrity endorsements.
Mr Hawkins added: “Blackpool used to be where people came to visit without a second thought, and that’s the mindset we want to bring back.
“The attractions are in place and we have seen huge regeneration, which is still going on, and we now have a modern, seaside resort.
“We are already very busy, but why can’t we have 14 million visitors a year, or 16 million? I see this as the start.
“Merlin has spearheaded this idea because we know this has worked at our resorts around the world.
“We took this to the council, who were really supportive which was important as it is a £1m project.
“And we hope everyone will benefit from this – the hotels, the town centre, and the restaurants.”
The cost has been met between the council and Merlin, although the full breakdown has not been revealed.
Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member for tourism and leisure on Blackpool Council, said: “It really is a joint vision, working in partnership with the people who want to see Blackpool have a bright future.
“The quality we now have to offer is top notch, along with fantastic value thanks to the Resort Pass, and we are continuing to raise the bar.
“We are on the right path and visitor numbers are up for the first quarter of this year, and over Easter, and we are seeing more and more investment.”
While the Pleasure Beach has run TV ads, it is at least six years since there was a Blackpool-wide television campaign.
Hoteliers have welcomed the move.
Mark Wilson, managing director of Sleepwell Hotels including The Carousel on South Promenade, said: “A £1m investment is clearly positive news for anyone in the wider tourism industry in Blackpool.
“The Pleasure Beach has kept up their regional TV campaigns over recent years and the plan for this additional jointly funded private and public sector advertising campaign is great to hear and will certainly provide a real boost to everyone involved in tourism in the area.
“Merlin are a quality operator with some great venues and their local brands featured alongside a generic prime time Blackpool campaign will also provide a financial spin off for hoteliers, restaurants, retail and other hospitality businesses alike.
“We hope this is a huge success and as such continues accordingly.”
Claire Smith, of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said: “TV advertising works without a doubt and as hoteliers, we really do gain from something like this.
“It puts Blackpool in people’s minds and lets them know how much is going on here.”
Adrian Smurthwaite, of The Albany Hotel on Albert Road, said: “Business is bleak at the moment so we need something and a TV advert would be great.”
There is a 60 second advert being broadcast in Scotland from now until August 3 to coincide with the Scottish holidays, and a totally different 30 second advert being broadcast in the north of England and Scotland from Monday July 14 until August 31, to coincide with the English holidays.
Both are being shown on screens in the town centre, including the Blackpool North Pier screen and a screen near the Tower, on Tuesday so hoteliers, residents and business owners can see them.
It will be shown during prime viewing times in the evening.