THIRTEEN million people visited Blackpool last year – the highest number in more than a decade.
That makes the Golden Mile the most visited seaside resort in the UK – beating the likes of Brighton, Skegness and Newquay which has seen visitors desert its Cornish shores in droves. Figures released today show a rise of one million visits to Blackpool in 2010 compared to 2009, a rise of eight per cent.
Overnight stays also went up to 30 per cent between last September and December.
The visitor satisfaction figure averaged 88 per cent for the year.
Hopes are high for another bumper year – despite the roadworks and rebuilding currently spread across the resort.
The new operator of Blackpool Tower today confidently predicted: “I worry for all the other resorts in the UK because we’re back on the map as the tourist attraction resort in the UK.”
Family friendly attractions, value for money and quality are claimed as helping boost the tourism economy which is annually worth more than £1bn to the resort and supports more than 20,000 jobs.
Coun Maxine Callow, cabinet member for tourism and regeneration on Blackpool Council, said: “The family friendly attractions are very important. With investment taking place at The Tower, Sandcastle and Nickelodeon, I firmly believe it is going to be an even better summer for Blackpool.”
In 2009, visitor numbers jumped from 10 million to 12 million. The last time they were as high as 13 million was in 1999, although prior to 1991 the town regularly attracted around 17 million visits a year.
2010 saw Blackpool put in the spotlight through events including the promotion of Blackpool FC to the Premier League, Robbie Williams switching on the Illuminations and Strictly Come Dancing broadcast from The Tower Ballroom.
Coun Callow added: “As a council we’re going for quality and tried to get away from the stag and hens.
“It has also helped getting out the message of zero tolerance. We used to have 13 lap-dancing clubs and now we have two. We have clamped down on massage parlours and sent the message out we won’t tolerate under-age drinking.
“The figures show we are getting it right and we are doing the right thing cleaning up the town.”
The increase has been welcomed by tourism chiefs. Iain Hawkins, head of the Blackpool cluster for Merlin which is the new operator of Blackpool Tower, said: “We really believe in what Blackpool is all about.
“We want to bring the families here and we are bringing in numerous brands that will attract people at every level. “
FOR THE FULL STORY SEE WEDNESDAY’S GAZETTE.