Tourism chiefs will invest £500,000 in a TV advertising campaign showcasing Blackpool for the third year running, it was revealed today.
The council is once more linking up with Merlin to inject the cash – but is appealing to other businesses to put their hands in their pockets too.
Last year the town hall and Merlin ploughed £700,000 into the campaign. The council is making its contribution against a backdrop of spending cuts but TV advertising is seen as key to boosting visitor numbers.
The Pleasure Beach is investing £1m in its separate marketing drive, which will also include TV ads, while events including the release of the Hollywood blockbuster Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, partially filmed at The Tower, are also expected to magnify interest in Blackpool.
The Miss Peregrine film is opening in the US in September, and in the UK on October 7.
Hoteliers and tourism leaders at the annual season launch held at the Pleasure Beach yesterday heard 2016 would be event-driven with less capital investment than previous years.
Highlights will include two visits from the Red Arrows, a UK first with Nickelodeon’s Slime-Fest coming to Blackpool for the Illuminations Switch-On weekend, and a packed shows programme at venues including the Winter Gardens and Grand Theatre.
The Resort Pass, giving admission to multiple attractions, has also been relaunched with February sales already double compared to the same time last year.
Coun Gillian Campbell, cabinet member for tourism, said: “Pressure on local government finances continues to create some very difficult decisions for the council.
“However, our commitment to tourism in this town remains as strong as ever.
“Last year, we invested more than £1m in events and destination marketing for Blackpool, as well as securing more than £2m of Government funding to secure the new LightPool shows within the Illuminations.
“I hope that many of you reaped some of the rewards from that investment.
“What we do know is that our events programme brought in hundreds of thousands of visitors over the summer and autumn – at times leaving the resort bursting at the seams.”
Philip Welsh, head of the visitor economy at Blackpool Council, confirmed the Blackpool’s Back campaign would continue, but urged other businesses to join in.
He said: “It is really important we find a way of funding large-scale destination marketing without it being totally dependent on the council and Merlin.”
The 2016 TV campaign will again be aimed at target markets in Scotland and the north of England.
Robert Owen, marketing director at the Pleasure Beach, said they aimed to be the best value for money attraction in the UK.
He added: “We are investing £1m in marketing campaigns including TV, radio and extensive signage to get the right message to the right people.
“We will be reaching a nationwide audience through satellite channels and concentrating on our core audience.
“This year is our 120th anniversary as well as the first birthday of our Skyforce ride, and we will be welcoming back the Red Arrows for a display over the Pleasure Beach on May 21.”
The park unveiled an extensive shows programme including Hot Ice which marks its 80th anniversary this year.
The Red Arrows will also perform at the Blackpool Air Show in August, while the events line-up also includes Pride, Armed Forces Week, Ride the Lights and the World Fireworks Championships.
But Mr Welsh warned there would be challenges ahead, including the fear big sports events including the European Football Championships and the Olympics could encourage more people to stay at home.
Hoteliers said they were confident about the season ahead.
Claire Smith, president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said: “The capital investment we have had has been marvelous, but if we haven’t got it this year, we just have to get over it and look at what we can do.
“We have to keep being creative and give people more reasons to visit Blackpool and more reasons to stay.”
Pam Deeley, of the Sunshine Blackpool Guesthouse on Osborne Road, South Shore, said: “I’m really impressed with what the Pleasure Beach is doing, and what is being done in regard to advertising, and they are certainly trying lots of new things.“