Sunshine at last sparks a bank holiday bonanza

Crowds on the Promenade as the sunshine made an appearance for Easter weekend
Crowds on the Promenade as the sunshine made an appearance for Easter weekend
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Traders and business leaders today hailed the arrival of thousands of holidaymakers to the resort as the town looks to build on a booming 2014.

Following last year’s summer success, which saw millions of people visit the resort, hoteliers and business owners said they have seen more of the same as tourists flocked to the resort for the Easter bank holiday weekend.

Former Emmerdale star Sammy Winward at the new Stingray Adventure at the Sea Life Centre

Former Emmerdale star Sammy Winward at the new Stingray Adventure at the Sea Life Centre

Warm weather on Saturday and Sunday, as well as dry conditions yesterday, led to thousands of punters visiting the resort’s top attractions, including the recently opened Stingray Adventure at the Sea Life Centre and the addition of pop singer Olly Murs to the waxworks at Madame Tussauds.

Iain Hawkins, head of Merlin Entertainments Group in Blackpool, which manages both venues, hailed a “bumper” weekend for visitors.

He added: “It’s been super. The weekend was busy and the same on Monday. The place has been buzzing, especially after a long winter.

“Last year Easter was a bit of an odd one with most children breaking up the Thursday before Good Friday, but this year we have been able to build up to the weekend for a week, generating excitement.

We really need to build on last year, last year was really good

“People appreciate Blackpool has a strong product on offer and I hope it’s backed up with the accommodation numbers too.”

Last year the resort experienced a surge in visitors as an extra 300,000 people visited the town – an increase of 9.8m in 2013 to 10.1m in 2014.

Claire Smith, of Stay Blackpool and owner of the Number One St Luke’s Bed and Breakfast in South Shore said: “It has been really busy weekend. The weather has been kind, everything is open and we have new attractions open to the public.

“There is a lot of things to talk about – we have new attractions at the Sea Life Centre and Madame Tussauds, while the Pleasure Beach has been massively popular.

Dave Daly

Dave Daly

“We really need to try and build on last year. It was really good. If we can replicate it again you have extra money to put back into the product, whether it be bars, restaurants, hotels or attractions – it is really important.”

Dave Daly, landlord of the Castle Pub in Central Drive and vice-president of publicans’ union Licensees Unite said takings were up – but encouraged Blackpool Council to continue to look at ways to increase visitor numbers.

He added: “Getting into town is still difficult for people and I wish the council would look at ways of improving that to increase the number of families visiting.

“But it’s been really good. We are up on the previous year. We had a good year last year and certainly the Merlin attractions have helped. It has got steadily better.”