Blackpool visitor number rise 'driven by big events'

Events such as the Livewire festival are said to have boosted visitor numbers this season
Events such as the Livewire festival are said to have boosted visitor numbers this season

Official figures show that visitor numbers to Blackpool soared over the summer, but   bumper claims have met with mixed response.

The latest Omnibus snapshot showed that carried out in the summer of 2017 shows a significant increase in adult visits between May and August compared to the same period in 2016.

It recorded 3.2m adult visits over the four months, compared to 2.75m in 2016 with increases in both staying and day visitors.

The highest figures were recorded in August when there were 1.2m adult visits compared to 0.9m in 2016.

Satisfaction ratings for the four months were said to be at 88 per cent compared to 89 per cent in the previous year and the quality and range of attractions was cited as the main reason for visiting by over 40 per cent of visitors.

The figures follow hot on the heels of the annual STEAM survey for 2016 which showed the overall number of tourism visits to the resort grew to 18 million – an increase of around one million compared to 2015. That survey valued Blackpool’s visitor economy at £1.5bn, supporting more than 25,000 jobs.

Coun Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “We are delighted that the investment that is being made in destination marketing is paying off.

"The annual Steam survey for 2016 illustrates the importance of tourism in Blackpool – tourism is a billion pound economy supporting more than 25,000 full-time jobs in the resort. The Omnibus results for the summer are also extremely encouraging.

"The events programme this year has been as good as I can ever remember and we will continue to build on that to give visitors new reasons to come back to Blackpool time and time again.”

She added that Blackpool was now gearing up for October half-term, which had become one of the busiest periods of the entire season.

During the half-term period, the resort will host top quality events including three days of Nickelodeon’s SLIMEFEST and the Festival@LightPool, three evenings of free entertainment on the Tower Festival Headland, as well as the world-famous Blackpool Illuminations.

Claire Smith, president of the hoteliers group Stay Blackpool, said visitor numbers this year had been driven by big events.

She said: “It has been a mixture of a season. At times we have been mega busy at others we have been scratching our heads and wondering why.

"2016 was a cracking year visitor numbers just rose and rose as the season went on, this year it has been very much up and down. But during events such as Livewire, the airshow, the fireworks and Lythan Proms, we have been spectacularly busy.”

Leader of the Conservative opposition at Blackpool Council, Coun Tony Williams said: “Just how much of this 1.5 billion has ended up in the council coffers as ironically they are about to embark on a residential road show asking what cuts they should make in the next budget.

"Most traders I have talked to have laughed at these figures and disagree with the council’s view they have had a bumper season. With one well known entrepreneur stating it has been the worst in 10 years.

"This council seems to think that Blackpool starts at Gyn square and finishes at South Pier, it doesn't, we have huge communities whose lives are not improved by council boasts of fantastic seasons and it's these real Blackpool people who take the brunt of bad council management despite this enormous amount of money supposedly coming into the town."