Blackpool's tourism season off to a flying start
Blackpool’s tourism got off to a flying start this year with latest figures showing the number of adult visits up by almost 400,000 for the first four months of 2019.
A council report said there were 1.79 million adult visits between January and April – compared to 1.42 million for the same time in 2018. Overnight stays have almost doubled from
550,000 last spring, to 1.07 million for the same four months this year. February half-term and the Easter break saw the biggest boosts with the Pleasure Beach proving to be the biggest draw.
The figures, from the national Omnibus Household survey with a sample size of more than 4,000 people, make up for disappointment last year when summer visitor numbers dropped by 400,000.
Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “It is good to see our tourism industry going into a new season on the back of some outstanding growth in visitor numbers.
“The later Easter and the exceptional weather over both bank holidays clearly gave a big boost, but it is encouraging that when the sun comes out Blackpool is so often the destination of choice.
“It is also great to see such positive growth in the number of overnight stays, particularly when there is so much investment being made in the accommodation sector.”
There were 450,000 adult visits in February this year, up from 260,000 last year, while the April figures were up to 650,000 from 450,000 including one of the busiest Easters on record.
Other indicators for the first four months of 2019 are also positive with tram passengers numbers growing to 1.15 million, up by more than 61,000.
Sales of the Resort Pass, which gives people admission to a set of top attractions, have also increased from 1,530 between January and April last year to 2,128 for the same time this year.
A record 1,383 passes were sold in April.
However spring footfall figures for both the town centre and the Promenade are down compared to last year – to 3.5 million in 2019 from 3.8 million in 2018 in the town centre, and down by more than 100,000 on the Promenade.
This is partly blamed on national high street retail trends, while Promenade footfall is only measured on the east of the seafront rather than west of the tram tracks which is where people head for the beach in good weather. Use of car parks is also down slightly but revenue is up.
Helen Mansell, vice-president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, agreed it had been a good start to the year.
She said: “We had two fabulous weeks of weather in February and it also helped that Easter was late.
“The May bank holidays held up well, June is ticking along nicely and we’re hoping July and August will be strong.
“I think the uncertainty around Brexit and the fact it is not as cheap now to go on holiday abroad might also be encouraging more people to holiday in this country and Blackpool could be benefiting from that.”
Recent hotel investments include the Hampton-by-Hilton which opened a year ago on Blackpool South Promenade.
Gill Mathison, director of Create Developments which owns the hotel, said: “The hotel has just celebrated its first birthday and we have been delighted with the trading performance within that period, which has far exceeded our original projections.
“We were awarded the fastest Hilton ramp up award for new openings across their European portfolio in 2018 and we continue to see very strong trading at the hotel through winter and heading into the summer period.
“I am confident the visitor numbers coming to Blackpool will continue to rise, given the extensive and continued investment by both Blackpool Council and the private sector, in particular the improved transport links and infrastructure, and projects such as the new conference centre and Boulevard Hotel by the Pleasure Beach.”