Blackpool attractions owner warns tourism has been hit by terrorism

Nick Varney
Nick Varney
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Merlin Entertainments, which has a suite of attractions in Blackpool, has warned that  the recent terror attacks have started to hit visitor numbers.

In a trading update ahead of the annual figures due later this summer, and covering the year to date, the firm said incidents in Manchester and London have dented domestic demand, with Merlin “cautious” on the levels of overseas visitors in the coming months.

Merlin said it benefited from the collapse in the Brexit-hit pound as more foreign tourists flocked to London, which continued in the immediate aftermath of the Westminster attack on March 22.

But the group said: “The incident did result in a softer domestic, day-trip market.

“However, the subsequent attacks in Manchester and London over the past month have resulted in a further deterioration in domestic demand and, given the typical lag between holiday bookings and visitation, we are also cautious on trends in foreign visitation over the coming months.” Merlin’s attractions in the include the dungeons such as the Tower Dungeon, Sea Life centres and Madame Tussauds. It also runs the other attractions at Blackpool Tower.

The company said trading at Merlin’s Legoland Parks and theme parks - such as Alton Towers - had been in line with expectations, but some have been “adversely affected in recent weeks by the terror attacks and subsequent heightened security measures”, the company added.

Boss Nick Varney said the impact of the terror attacks is still “unclear at this stage”, but he backed the city to bounce back.

He said: “What is clear, however, is that London has bounced back before, and will do again.

“I have every confidence in the longer-term resilience and growth trajectory of the market. London is very much open for business, welcoming visitors from the UK and from around the world to this exciting and vibrant city.”

He added that he remained “confident in the company’s underlying growth prospects”.

See also: Pound boost for home tourism