Tourism operators including Merlin, Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Choice Hotels are putting competition aside to keep Blackpool on top

The aim is to keep Blackpool as the number one UK holiday destination
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Tourism operators in Blackpool are sharing their expertise to ensure the resort retains its crown as the UK's top holiday destination.

Blackpool TowerBlackpool Tower
Blackpool Tower

A fresh collaboration between the resort's destination marketing organisation, VisitBlackpool and big names such as Merlin and the Pleasure Beach is helping drive the town forward - with visitor numbers passing 20 million last year.The vehicle for this is the Tourism BID (business improvement district) formed in July 2021 out of a need to recover from the impact of the Covid pandemic.

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Philip Welsh, Head of Tourism & Communications for Blackpool Council, said: “It was vitally important to emerge from COVID with a resort-wide strategy that gave our businesses the best possible chances of a rapid recovery. The establishment of the TBID was key to that strategy and ultimately helped Blackpool to record the fastest post-pandemic recovery of any UK destination.”

The TBID includes attractions, show bars, hotels and even ice-cream sellers, with businesses both large and small joining forces to share their experience, expertise and enthusiasm to promote Blackpool. Key players include companies which have traded successfully for generations, and hoteliers who even in the midst of winter have high occupancy rates. And all are willing to share the secrets of their success with the wider tourism community.

As one member puts it: "We are not here to compete for our own individual pieces of the pie, but to grow the pie so our individual pieces are bigger."

Kate Shane, regional director for Merlin which operates Blackpool attractions on behalf of the council including The Tower and Sandcastle Waterpark, as well as brands such as Madame Tussauds and the Sea Life Centre, chairs the Tourism BID (TBID) management group.

Regional director of Merlin Kate ShaneRegional director of Merlin Kate Shane
Regional director of Merlin Kate Shane
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She said: "It's the first time we have had each of the elements of the tourism sector represented in one group where we have an absolute shared objective and desire to make sure Blackpool retains its number one spot as a seaside destination."

The strategy has seen the launch of events such as VisitBlackpool's Christmas by the Sea which attracts more than six million visitors, while the TBID also worked with the council on events to celebrate the King's Coronation which saw Blackpool Tower feature on the BBC's Lighting Up The Nation.

Plans for this year include putting the town in the spotlight as the UK Capital of Dance in June and July. The TBID has also supported marketing campaigns such as the Nigel C Gull TV advert.

Kate added: "Our ambition is to create a year-round resort and events such as Christmas By The Sea are already helping us achieve that."

Christmas By The SeaChristmas By The Sea
Christmas By The Sea


  • The TBID has 260 levy-payers and covers the whole Promenade as well as Stanley Park and Blackpool Zoo.
  • The levy collection rate is 93 per cent and raises income of £230,000 a year.
  • It is one of just seven tourism BIDs in the country. Blackpool also has a town centre BID.
  • The TBID management group includes Merlin, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Viva, Choice Hotels, Notarianni Ices, Marton Mere holiday park, the Beach House bistro, Coral Island and Blackpool Transport.

What are operators saying about the TBID?

Eddie Nelder from Choice Hotels

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Choice Hotels operates three hotels in Blackpool - the Claremont, Cliffs and Viking - and two in the Lake District, employing 400 people with 1,800 guests a week. It says it is 90 per cent full all year round.

Eddie said: "For us, it started in Covid when we needed help from the council financially and joined the TBID. Through recovery, we realised we needed to work as a team. Blackpool needs to improve its perception and make sure we are the number one destination in the UK, and that's what we are doing through this.

"We have set up a media group to help hoteliers tap into the kind of marketing we do, for example showing the potential of using social media. Working together benefits everyone."

Martin Heywood from Viva

Martin Heywood, Managing Director and Leye D Johns, Host and Compère at VIVA Blackpool. Photo: Kelvin StuttardMartin Heywood, Managing Director and Leye D Johns, Host and Compère at VIVA Blackpool. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
Martin Heywood, Managing Director and Leye D Johns, Host and Compère at VIVA Blackpool. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

"We are doing more touring and taking our shows out on the road which serves as a marketing tool for the venue in Blackpool," he said.

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"From our perspective as a small business, we can see how this is improving perceptions of Blackpool. It is great to have a seat at the table with the TBID and have these discussions so we can be involved in how the money is spent and have our voice heard.

"So it is not just pivotal around the big players, but also the smaller businesses in the resorts and the accommodation owners. Also Blackpool operates very much around events now and some wouldn't happen without the support of the TBID."

James Cox, director of marketing at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Pleasure BeachPleasure Beach
Pleasure Beach

"We are one of the biggest levy-payers so cast one of the biggest votes so it's important to have a voice around that table," he said.

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"Ultimately if Blackpool is successful, then we in turn will be successful. We are the number one reason people visit Blackpool, so it's important for us to support other businesses and guide the marketing of Blackpool. Not every member has a marketing capacity, so it's good we can help other members and use our resources.

"We are stronger together than on our own and Blackpool Pleasure Beach wants to be part of the wider community in the town. For example, Christmas-By-The-Sea gets more people here and they trickle down to our shows and panto. We are not here to compete for our own individual pieces of the pie, but to grow the pie so our individual pieces are bigger."

Luca Vettese, from Notarianni Ices, Waterloo Road

Luca Vettese and Maddalena Vettese of Notarianni IcesLuca Vettese and Maddalena Vettese of Notarianni Ices
Luca Vettese and Maddalena Vettese of Notarianni Ices

Luca is the fourth generation of a business which has been in Blackpool for 96 years.

He said: "I think one of the reasons we got asked onto the board is the family has traded for so long in Blackpool. We have taken the business into the modern era while keeping the tradition of the brand.

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"I think the TBID works for the hospitality sector and makes sure it represents all the levy payers. The work it does to help the bigger businesses snowballs out to the smaller businesses. It is about knowing your product, your market and providing that service consistently. The core things which have kept my business going is what we are trying to put into marketing and events."

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