New £1m TV boost

Take two: The young star of last year's highly successful 'Blackpool's Back' ad campaign which featured on prime time TV
Take two: The young star of last year's highly successful 'Blackpool's Back' ad campaign which featured on prime time TV
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Council and Merlin team up again for ad campaign after visitor numbers soar

A £1m campaign to put Blackpool back on the map as the UK’s top tourist destination is to be repeated in 2015 – after figures showed it had sent visitor numbers soaring.

Attraction giant Merlin and Blackpool Council have agreed to fund the ‘Blackpool’s Back’ campaign for another

year – putting £350,000 each into the pot, with the rest

to be made up by other businesses.

It comes after Merlin revealed last year Blackpool outperformed all its other UK business operations in terms of increased revenue.

Year-on-year, revenues at Blackpool’s Merlin attractions, which include Madame Tussaud’s, the Sea Life Centre, the Dungeon and the Tower, were up by almost 13 per cent.

Latest visitor figures for the town show numbers from May to August grew by more than 200,000, with figures for the last part of the year, which includes the Illuminations, yet to be unveiled.

Overnight stays were up 30 per cent.

And almost a third of people who visited the Blackpool’s Back website went on to buy tickets, with 123,000 Resort Passes sold following the launch of the site in June.

Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin, today revealed he has met with council leaders in Blackpool to agree to run the campaign for a second year.

He told The Gazette: “In our position as a company that operates across four continents, what we saw happen in Blackpool last season was exceptional.

“A lot of money has been spent on improving the product in this resort – the Golden Mile has more world class attractions than anywhere else in the UK, and even Europe and we need to be going out and telling people it is the best family resort destination they can come to.

“What we said this time last year was, we need to kickstart that and really go out and market it and with the council we put £1m into the Blackpool’s Back campaign.

“Blackpool had an exceptionally good season last year and the numbers visiting our attractions were up across the board.

“The good weather was a factor, but Blackpool outperformed all our other UK attractions in terms of revenue growth.

“It outperformed London and our other seaside resorts.

“We are very certain this was the result of the Blackpool’s Back campaign and all the integrated activity that came off the back of it.”

Merlin has also increased its workforce by around 10 per cent this year, and will employ 500 people in Blackpool during the height of the 2015 season.

The Blackpool’s Back campaign will relaunch at Easter, and the TV advert will be updated and aired on regional television in Scotland and northern England.

This year it is hoped to enable people to book accommodation as well as buy attraction tickets on the website.

Operators and hoteliers who want to have a presence will pay to be on the website.

Mr Varney added: “We need more stakeholders to step up but the opportunity is huge.

“It has taken Merlin and a very brave decision by the council to put money into the campaign but in times of austerity it is important Blackpool backs its main industry.

“Against the backdrop of the cuts if you don’t back your winning industry you are heading down into a doom loop.”

Last year’s television advert showcased the investment in the Promenade, the Tower and the trams.

It was backed up by a digital campaign, the Blackpool’s Back website and marketing drives involving national newspapers.

Coun Graham Cain, Cabinet Member for Tourism and Leisure for Blackpool Council, said: “The Blackpool’s Back campaign was really successful last summer and it is great to hear that Merlin’s attraction in Blackpool are performing so well.

“Any campaign to promote Blackpool needs to be led by ourselves and Merlin but this year we will be talking to other big operators in the hope that they too will contribute.”