Sunny 2018 and Britney Spears gave Blackpool a boost with 18.2m visitors

2018 saw events such as the Britney Spears concert at the Tower Festival Headland
2018 saw events such as the Britney Spears concert at the Tower Festival Headland
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Blackpool saw a jump in visitors during sunny 2018, according to a new survey.

The latest STEAM study, which counts children as well as adult visitors, reported that the resort had 18.2m visitors, up 100,000 on 2017.

The Illuminations Switch-On event drew in thousands

The Illuminations Switch-On event drew in thousands

The annual survey estimates that the flood of tourists visiting Blackpool contributed £1.581bn to the economy.

It was the year that saw thousands flock to the resort to see Britney Spears end her Piece of Me tour at the Blackpool Festival Headland, Alfie Boe and Diversity switch on the Illuminations and DJ Pete Tong, George Ezra, Emeli Sande and Nile Rogers at the Lytham Festival.

Fylde had 3.3m visitors, the same as 2017, with a spend of £263.5m.

Wyre saw 4.8m, down from 4.9m but worth £361.6m.

Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “It is very encouraging that the annual report for 2018 shows continued growth in Blackpool’s visitor economy. Once again, there is an increase in visitor numbers and a significant uplift in the economic impact of tourism.

“We are committed to maintaining Blackpool’s position as the UK’s most visited seaside resort through continued investment in tourism infrastructure, and new shows and attractions, as well as the sympathetic rejuvenation of iconic assets such as The Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens.

“The coming year will see the opening of a further three next generation hotels and the opening of a brand new conference and exhibition centre that will help meet our objective of becoming a true, year-round destination.”

The figures come as Marketing Lancashire, the organisation charged with promoting tourism to the county, said Lancashire saw its sixth consecutive year of visitor growth.

The report said there were in 68.74 million visits to the county in 2018, up 1.7 per cent on 2017, with visitors spending £4.41bn, again up 3.8 per cent on the previous year in the county.

The report showed there was also a 1.5 per cent increase in jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector, with employment now totalling 60,782.

Chief executive Rachel McQueen said: “In 2018, we enjoyed an especially hot summer, with visitors choosing Lancashire for short breaks and days out in particular, from Easter right through to the autumn months, increasing the total number of visitor days from 85 million in 2017 to 86 million in 2018.

“We’re delighted to be able to demonstrate that the county is continuing to thrive as a visitor destination, with six years of healthy and sustainable growth to celebrate.

“Lancashire’s food and drink and retail attractions continue to flourish, with both areas exceeding £1bn in direct expenditure by visitors, confirming our belief in Lancashire as the UK’s top gourmet destination.

“Today’s news is testament to the strength of Lancashire’s tourism sector, the professionalism and entrepreneurship of all those who work in our industry.

“It comes just a few weeks before we celebrate their incredible achievements in the Lancashire Tourism Awards 2019. Six years of continuous growth is certainly something to be very proud of and I’ll be saying as much as I welcome them to our tourism ‘Oscars’ in November.”

But she said the county could not sit on its laurels.

She added: “We’re confident that many exciting developments and new investments across the county will continue to drive growth, helping to attract high value visitors from further afield as well as boosting our domestic tourism offer.

“To that end we are now working with TEAM Tourism Consulting to help us produce a new tourism growth strategy for Lancashire, which will help us to explore and maximise the priority opportunities for the sector.”

“TEAM has been commissioned to develop an ambitious strategy focused on targeting interventions towards inclusive growth. The work will gather an evidence base that will feed into the development of the Local Industrial Strategy being led by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership. It will also stand us in good stead to maximise any opportunities that come forward through the government’s Tourism Sector Deal.”

TEAM Executive Director, Richard Dickinson said: “With tourism now one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy, TEAM Tourism Consulting is looking forward to working with Marketing Lancashire and its industry partners, to build on the County’s undoubted strengths and create a clear and focused road-map that can maximise the potential of tourism in the years ahead.”

The STEAM visitor figures for Lancashire authorities.

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council 4.2m visitors, worth £171.6m.

Blackpool Council 18.1m visitors, worth £1,524m.

Burnley Borough Council, 2.5m visitors, worth £114.8m.

Chorley Borough Council, 3.7m visitors, worth, £182.7m.

Fylde Borough Council, 3.3m visitors, worth £248.8m.

Hyndburn Borough Council, 2.0m visitors, worth £87.4m.Lancaster City Council, 7.5m visitors, worth £476.5m.Borough of Pendle, 2.7m worth £124.9m.

Preston City Council, 6.9m visitors, worth £317.4m.

Ribble Valley Borough Council 4.1m visitors, worth £243m.Rossendale Borough Council 1.4m visitors, worth £59m.

South Ribble Borough Council 3.4m visitors, worth £168.1m.

West Lancashire District Council, 2.9m visitors, worth £161.0m.

Wyre Borough Council, 4.9m visitors, worth £372.9m.