Why 'Brexit effect' is good for Blackpool
More people are planning to holiday in the UK amid uncertainty over Brexit, according to a new survey – and that is good for Blackpool, say hoteliers.
With one new survey saying the resort is poised to benefit from changing holiday habits, one long-serving local businessman says trade is the best he has seen it “for years”.
It comes as the “staycation” continues to rise in popularity, with a move towards a shorter summer break supplemented by a few long weekend getaways also seemingly good news for Blackpool.
At the four-star, 17-bedroom Collingwood Hotel on Holmfield Road, owner Pat Conroy says business is taking a noticeable upturn.
He said: “I’ve been in the hotel trade for 40 years and this is the best I’ve seen it a long while.
“In May this year we had 90 per cent occupancy, which is very unusual to the say the least.
“It’s been getting better since last year but this year has been the best so far.
“We’re getting people who are quite happy to stay a week, two weeks, not just a couple of days.
“I’m not sure if it is about Brexit but a lot of them are telling me they are fed up with airports and having to queue up, and the expense of going abroad.
“They’re quite happy to come here and enjoy what Blackpool and the rest of this area has to offer.
“We’re even taking booking for 2020.
“Blackpool is a good place to be at this moment, and it offers brilliant value for money.”
With the resort listed as the second most popular destination in the country after Cornwall, according to a study by Travelodge, bookings across many of the town’s hotels are up.
Hoteliers in the town say Blackpool, with its golden sands, wide range of accommodation and attractions such as the Pleasure Beach and Blackpool Tower, is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the trend and hotels offer brilliant value for money.
One of the most striking buildings on Blackpool’s promenade is Tiffany’s Hotel, a two-tone pink building along North Shore.
Here, director Adam Johnstone believes Blackpool is on the up and says the hotel is already reaping the benefits.
He said: “Since the start of this year, bookings have been up by between 15 and 20 per cent.
“I don’t think that is just down to Brexit, I do think that the efforts made to improve Blackpool in the last couple of years are starting to have an effect.
“The Promenade is looking better because of the work done there, and we’re going to get new attractions and new hotels so that is creating interest.
“We are a seafront hotel as well, which is a big draw, and we’re working hard to make sure Tiffany’s has a lot to offer visitors so that is helping to drive trade up here.
“Blackpool is still a working man’s town and it doesn’t surprise me at all to hear that we are the second biggest attraction in the country. I think the bookings will continue to rise.
“And if we had guaranteed good weather and Blackpool Airport was still open, we’d have even more people coming.”
Peter Shaw and Valerie Hodgkiss have been running the nine-bedroom Kingsbury Private Hotel on South Promenade for the last three years – and they too are seeing a hike in business.
Peter, 66, who has been in the hospitality trade for 50 years, says Blackpool is moving in the right direction – but needs to do more to be the number one tourist spot in the UK.
He said: “Up until this year most of our guests would stay weekends only – now they’re spending three or four days here so our bookings are going up.
“People tell us they don’t want to take big two week holidays - they want to have several shorter stays and that is why Blackpool hotels are staring to get better bookings.
“I’m not sure it if this is down to Brexit, it may be a factor.
“I think the council is trying to make Blackpool better and is on the right lines, but not with everything.
“Something has to be done about the poorer areas of Blackpool and the money on the new tram tracks could have been spent elsewhere, I think.
“When Ian Holloway was the manager of Blackpool FC, he said they were good up front but not so good at the back - I think that sums up Blackpool well, because away from the seafront it needs improving.
“I welcome the new hotels opening in Blackpool but the council has to ensure there is adequate parking, because that is another big issue in the town.
“And not all the hotels in Blackpool are up to standard and the council could do more to ensure they are.
“Things are definitely looking up in terms of business and it is something we very much welcome.”