Blackpool: On the Crest of a Wave
Blackpool’s tourism economy is riding on the crest of a wave after two surveys showed significant growth in visitor numbers over the past 18 months.
The annual STEAM survey* for 2016 has revealed that the overall number of tourism visits to the resort grew to 18 million – an increase of around one million compared to the previous year. That survey valued Blackpool’s visitor economy at a staggering £1.5bn, supporting more than 25,000 jobs.
The 2016 study shows that visitor numbers in Blackpool grew by 6% and represented almost 30% of all visits to Lancashire. There was year-on-year growth in staying visitors (+3.3%) and day visitors (+6.4%).
Now a new snapshot Omnibus** survey 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. There were 3.2m adult visits over the four months, compared to 2.75m in 2016 with increases in 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 at 88% compared to 89% in the previous year and the quality and range of visitor attractions was cited as the main reason for visiting by more than 40% of visitors.
During the May to August period, the resort has been heavily promoted through the Blackpool Has It All destination marketing campaign which featured extensive TV advertising, PR and digital campaigns.
That activity was supported by a major events programme in August that included a two-day Air Show which attracted more than 100,000 visitors each day and the new three-day Livewire Festival which culminated in a spectacular outdoor concert featuring Hollywood superstar Will Smith.
During August itself, record levels of footfall were recorded in and around the town centre and promenade, and the tramway recorded a record-breaking month with over 700,000 passengers.
The Blackpool Has It All campaign is a partnership between VisitBlackpool, Merlin Entertainments and Blackpool Pleasure Beach, with additional contributions from the Winter Gardens, Sandcastle Waterpark, Blackpool Transport Services and other private sector operators within the tourism economy.
Cllr 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.”
Blackpool is now gearing up for October half-term, which has 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.
Will Smith Photo Credit: Dave Nelson