High hopes for new Blackpool conference centre
Blackpool Mayor Coun Amy Cross says she is "absolutely confident" the resort is well-poised to win back big chunks of its conference trade once new facilities are in place.
Coun Cross has been involved in talks as part of her mayoral role and as chairman of the Blackpool Entertainments Company Ltd which includes the Winter Gardens where the £25m conference centre is being built.
She said: "I'm able to have conversations with people who want to come to the conference centre.
"We are getting a positive reaction in that we know people enjoy conferences in Blackpool."
Coun Cross said she believed once people were able to make site visits to the conference centre and see the hotel offer that will be in place, they would want to return to Blackpool.
She added: "I'm absolutely confident they will come back as people love Blackpool as a conference destination.
"One of the questions is people want connectivity and that's what the tramway extension will do.
"Our main aim is to boost the economy around the Winter Gardens and any profit we do make we want to put back into the Winter Gardens itself."
The conference centre, being built on Leopold Grove, will link directly to existing facilities in the Empress Ballroom and is due to open next April.
The next phase of work is to put cladding on the building.
Conferences already confirmed include the GMB union national conference in June next year, the Association of Inner Wheels Clubs in April 2021 and shopworkers union Usdaw has confirmed it will return to Blackpool every year until at least 2024.
The Conservative Party has also held talks to bring one of its conferences back to the resort.
The new confernce centre will be able to host around 2,000 delegates in its own right, but when integrated into the existing Winter Gardens facilities it will take the venue capacity to more than 7,000.
Outline planning permission was granted last June for a 203-bedroom hotel on land between Leopold Grove and Adelaide Street including a second floor bridge to link it directly to the conference centre.