Hoteliers hopes as Blackpool is shut for Easter and holiday season put on hold

Easter traditionally marks the start of the annual season for Britain's biggest holiday resort Blackpool - but this year the message for the usual influx of tourists is stay away.
Blackpool beach will be empty this Easter (picture - VisitBlackpool)Blackpool beach will be empty this Easter (picture - VisitBlackpool)
Blackpool beach will be empty this Easter (picture - VisitBlackpool)

Hotels and B&Bs are shut, rollercoasters remain unused, the three piers stretch silently into the sea and the shutters are pulled up at pubs and clubs.

It is painful at a time when Blackpool should be ringing with the sound of fun seekers after another long winter - but everyone understands the necessity of this vital action as the nation battles coronavirus.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Claire Smith, president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said: "This year it is going to be like Easter didn't happen, but the main thing is people stay safe.

Claire SmithClaire Smith
Claire Smith

"This has happened at the worst time of year for Blackpool. Hoteliers have just got through the winter when they spend the money earned last summer, and Easter is traditionally the first burst of money coming in for this year.

"Thankfully the £10,000 government grants for small businesses are now coming through and the government has acted very quickly which is a great help for many.

"It gives everyone breathing space.

"Hoteliers have either been cancelling bookings or transferring them to later in the year in the hope things will be back to normal by then.

The Winter Gardens is shut, but you can enjoy a virtual tour of the venueThe Winter Gardens is shut, but you can enjoy a virtual tour of the venue
The Winter Gardens is shut, but you can enjoy a virtual tour of the venue
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Guests are appreciating what we are doing for them, and it's important we treat them well when it comes to refunds and rearrangements.

"That will buy us a lot of goodwill and hopefully our visitors will support us and come back once Blackpool is fully open again."

Coun Derek Robertson, who owns The Wilmar Hotel on Osborne Road, South Shore, said the hotel should have been full for the Easter weekend.

He said: "We have had to cancel all our guests for April and May, and don't know yet about June.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Our guests are mainly return visitors and they're all saying they will come back and it's important we maintain that goodwill.

"Thankfully I own my property and don't have a mortgage, but it will be difficult for many hoteliers. However, everyone has to stay home while we fight this terrible virus."

Robert Wynne, whose businesses in Blackpool include the Brew Room and West Coast Rock Cafe, said he hoped the back end of the season could be saved.

He said: "Blackpool's business woes are nothing compared to the world situation, but if we can get open for July, August and September, we'll get through it.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Those months are the best part of the trading season so there is a possibility we can rescue it.

"In the long-term there could be a big change and people might start looking locally and realising they don't have to fly half-way around the world to have a great holiday."

In the meantime, the council's tourism arm VisitBlackpool has produced a virtual package tour to ensure the resort stays at the forefront of people's minds.

It includes a virtual ride on the ICON rollercoaster at the Pleasure Beach, footage of white-knuckle water chutes at the Sandcastle, a walk through the Winter Gardens and shots from the Tower, Illuminations, Zoo and Sea Life Centre.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of the council, said: “In normal times, this is the official start of our holiday season when our numerous attractions put out the welcome mat and our coastline is packed with visitors enjoying the spring sunshine.

“But Easter 2020 is going to be very different. Government advice is to stay home and stay safe. And that means not visiting Blackpool, even for the day – and the Easter Bank Holiday weekend is no exception.

“But just because you can’t come to Blackpool for Easter doesn’t mean we can’t bring Blackpool to you.

"Thanks to the internet, people can experience some of the resort’s brilliant attractions and venues from the comfort of their own home.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We hope this will bring a taste of the seaside into their living rooms – and whet appetites to come back and see us when it’s safe to do so.”

The package is available on the www.visitblackpool.com website.

The District Councils Network has warned many seaside resorts reliant on seasonal crowds are under the threat of becoming 'ghost towns' as they miss out on their expected influx of Easter visitors.

Coun Mark Crane, DCN lead member for stronger economies, said: “With people rightly staying away to minimise the spread of infection, this could have a devastating impact on many places that rely on the tourism industry.

“There’s a real risk that if they don’t recover, our tourist towns could become ghost towns."

Let's hope Blackpool can bounce back when the lockdown is finally over.