Big events attract half a million extra visitors to Blackpool in 2017

Half a million more people came to Blackpool last year as a bumper entertainment calender put the resort back on the map '“ but the main boom is among day trippers.

Monday, 4th June 2018, 9:07 am
Updated Monday, 4th June 2018, 9:17 am
Blackpool Promenade

Other indicators, including sales of car parking tickets and tram passenger numbers, are also up, as is footfall in the town centre and on the Promenade.

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There were around 540,000 additional adult visits in 2017 compared to 2016, with a total of 8.35 million adult visits last year – up from 7.81 million the previous year.

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Blackpool Promenade

However, when the figures are broken down, only 3.1 million stayed overnight in 2017, compared to 3.6 million in 2016.

But numbers for day-trippers are up by more than one million, to just under five million.

The figures are from the annual Blackpool Omnibus Survey, a national household survey with a sample size of more than 4,000 respondents. Only adult visits are counted.

The 2017 boom in visitors has been greeted with joy in the resort.

Livewire Festival

Claire Smith from Stay Blackpool, (pictured) the hoteliers association, said her members said the year was one of peaks and troughs.

She said: “The general feeling last year was a good season for the hotels.

“In 2016, it started steadily at Easter and steadily increased, whereas 2017 was brilliant during the bank holidays and when festivals and events were on. But visitor numbers dropped off in between. I would say these figures were a true reflection of the year. If overnight stays were down, then it must have been the premises that generally trade less well that suffered, Stay Blackpool members had a good year.”

She said Blackpool hoteliers were doing fine currently, with the only cloud on the horizon being the 800 or so rooms from the new hotels to be built in the resort came on line.

“We need those hotels and the new attractions and conference centre to bring in new visitors so that the new hotels do not take trade away from the smaller ones leaving them without enough money to reinvest. If they get shabby then we would be just moving a problem around.”

Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council said: “Most of our indicators for 2017 were very positive and it is encouraging that the investment we make in destination marketing and events, is reaping dividends for the visitor economy.

“2017 also saw new events coming into town such as the Will Smith concert (pictured right) and these coupled with investment in our visitor attractions, give people compelling new reasons to come here.”

The other main tourism survey, the STEAM survey includes children as well.Its 2017 figures are due out in July, but last year it showed 18 million tourism visits to Blackpool.

The latest Omnibus figures are in a report to Blackpool Council’s tourism, economy and resources scrutiny committee which is due to consider them when it meets on Wednesday.

The report also includes a number of other performance indicators including sales of the Resort Pass, tram passenger numbers, footfall on the Promenade and parking revenue.

Town centre footfall, which is measured using sensors, is up from 20.7 million in 2016 to 21.6 million last year while Promenade footfall is up from 5.5 million to just under 5.7 million.

The number of passengers using the trams is up by nearly 119,000 to almost 5.2 million, while ticket sales in council car parks are up nearly 22,500 to more than 1.1 million sales.

Further information collected by the council shows 86 per cent of respondents to its rolling visitor survey had positive perceptions of Blackpool and 91 per cent were return visitors.

Nearly half of visitors are couples with 28 per cent families.

But some indicators are down – with sales of the Resort Pass standing at 14,820 last year compared to 16,822 in 2016.

The number of visitors arriving by train is also down from 1.3 million to 1.17 million but this has been affected by the closure of the Blackpool to Preston rail line during electrification works.

Last year Blackpool hosted events including Livewire, which saw Hollywood star Will Smith performing on the Tower Festival Headland, while crowds also gathered for the Star Trek-themed Illuminations Switch -On.

Tens of thousands of people also packed the Promenade for the two-day Air Show.

This year it is hoped multi-million pound investments including the new ICON rollercoaster at the Pleasure Beach and Project Elephant new elephant house at the Zoo will help draw in additional visitors.

Global stars Mariah Carey and Britney Spears are also due to perform on the Tower Festival Headland this year.