China deal sparks new hopes for Blackpool
Blackpool could be in line to see Chinese money invested in the resort following closer ties to the tropical beach venue of Sanya.
Officials from the city in Hainan province enjoyed a tour of Blackpool following the signing of a twinning deal.
They then went on to sign a deal with Thomas Cook to create new travel packages between the UK and the resort.
Blackpool Council leader Simon Blackburn said the potential from the deal was huge, particularly with China investing heavily into Airport City in Manchester which could bring new trade and tourism to the region which Blackpool should be looking to capitalise on.
He said: “This is really important for Blackpool and will help bring much closer co-operation between the UK and China.
“We have been working on this for two years and as well as being important for the visitor economy and business it is also for less obvious benefits such as improving education.
“I visited a school when we went over to China and I was extremely impressed by what I saw.”
He said China’s economy although no longer still expanding rapidly, was extremely strong and people there were looking to invest in the UK.
He said: “They can see the potential here with its history and traditions.
“A lot of people over there are keen to invest here. Bricks and mortar are seen as among the safest investments anywhere.
“They are very excited about the Northern Powerhouse and Chinese money is flowing into Manchester. Blackpool has already benefited with the £500,000 deal to host the Blackpool Dance Festival Shanghai. That is real money coming into town.”
Peter Lui, chief executive of the Blackpool Chinese Community Association, which has been working on the project throughout the past two years said the signing of the sister city deal presented real opportunity for the resort.
He said the Chinese were interested in Blackpool because of its tourism history and heritage and because of its strong connection to ballroom dancing.
He said: “Sanya is a relatively new resort and still developing so they are interested in learning lessons from Blackpool.”
He said Sanya was currently the host city for the Miss World competition and they were interested in the way Blackpool had developed as an events venue.
After the Blackpool visit, the Sanya leaders went on to sign an agreement with Thomas Cook to promote tourism at the southern Chinese resort with new flights in the next two years.
Yue Jin, executive vice mayor of Sanya, said:“British tourists are adventurous travellers and familiar with tropical destinations across the globe.
“Sanya offers a new experience which combines China’s traditional culture with over 300 sunny days a year, clean air, crystal clear waters and extensive sandy beaches and sports including golf and diving.
“Sanya has invested heavily in its infrastructure yet retained its character as the pearl of the South China Sea.”
While in Blackpool he said the Chinese delegation appreciated being greeted by a traditional unicorn dance from the Blackpool Chinese community and said Blackpool’s connection to the world of ballroom dancing, hugely popular in China, was a major reason for their interest in the town.