The lights are on, but no-one knows

Illuminations on an empty Promenade this week
Illuminations on an empty Promenade this week
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HOTELIERS have hit out at town hall bosses for wasting a tourism opportunity after they were kept in the dark about the Illuminations being on.

The world famous Lights have been beaming along the Promenade from Squires Gate to Blackpool Tower as part of the February Festival.

And the £2,000 cost of lighting them for two weeks has been branded a waste by business owners not able to take advantage of the boost, especially as they are on during the school holidays.

Sam Ward, from the South Beach hotel on South Promenade, said: “We haven’t been told the Lights were going to be on or we’d have told our guests.

“People who’ve seen them have all said they feel really lucky they were on, it’s a massive draw for visitors.

“But it’s not a draw if we can’t advertise the fact, it’s a shocking waste.”

Johnny Ocean, from the Inglewood Hotel in South Shore, added: “It’s like opening the Pleasure Beach but not telling anybody.”

The Illuminations brings in an estimated three million visitors every year and costs £2.4m.

In 2009, it was revealed Illuminations bosses had overspent by £500,000.

Bosses claimed a drop in business donations and the £285,000 cost of Carnesky’s Ghost Train contributed to the overspend.

Proposals have been put forward to scrap the section of lights between Starr Gate and the Solaris centre in a bid to reign in costs.

Claire Smith, from hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said: “It’s great for visitors who are already here, but I do wonder if the fact they are on could have been used to draw even more people in. Against the back drop of all the cuts you do have to question whether they are value for money.”

Alan Cavill, assistant director of tourism at Blackpool Council, said: “We decided it would make a nice addition to the February Festival and Showzam! to have the Lights switched on.

“They are a bonus to compliment the atmosphere created by the events not an event in themselves.

“VisitBlackpool has widely promoted Showzam! to hotels so they can in turn promote it to their visitors. We are not switching on the full length of the Lights, only five road sections.”