Blackpool Half-Term Success
Blackpool has enjoyed one of its best October half-terms on record.
Figures from various sectors within the visitor economy show that the nine days at the end of October proved a remarkable finale to the 2015 tourism season with a number of operators claiming their highest ever figures.
Indicators show that the season got off to a relatively slow start as an early Easter and inconsistent weather in the early part of the season impacted on visitor numbers.
However, as the summer holidays progressed, the resort recorded the highest August total for visitor figures for more than three years – and then saw an even stronger performance when the Illuminations season got underway in September, culminating in a spectacular October half-term.
Among the October highlights are:
- Tram passengers totalling 827,000 compared to 570,000 in the same month last year
- Town centre and Promenade footfall the highest on record
- Council car park usage 20% ahead of last year
- More than 17,000 customers using the Tourist Information Centre compared to 14,000 last year
- Usage of the VisitBlackpool website 25% higher than October 2014
- Blackpool Resort Pass sales showing growth of almost 30%
- Sandcastle Waterpark admissions up by 7% in October and highest ever revenue generated
- Blackpool Zoo experiencing its busiest October on record, up nearly 20% on last year.
- All Merlin attractions breaking previous records during October half-term
- Illuminasia experiencing its busiest week of 2015 during half-term
Iain Hawkins, Merlin Entertainments, said: “October was a great month for the Merlin visitor attractions in Blackpool. All of our attractions during half term became record breakers with the Blackpool Tower Eye, Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE and Dungeons all setting new daily and weekly visitor totals! The Tower Circus experienced multiple sell outs and the Ballroom’s Halloween party had to have an additional party night scheduled to cope with demand!”
Jane Cole, Managing Director of Blackpool Transport, said: “I am delighted that this year Blackpool Transport’s buses and tramway proved to be the preferred mode of transport for visitors in the resort.
“We went that extra mile to ensure we delivered a fantastic customer experience and put more vehicles out to meet demand. The tramway proved to be very popular so we went all out to enhance the journey choices by providing extra Heritage and Illumination Tours to alleviate overcrowding.
“We have received some tremendous feedback from customers about how they enjoyed travelling with Blackpool Transport.”
Michael Williams, Managing Director of the Winter Gardens, said: “2015 has been a great year for the Winter Gardens and continues to be so. We've had some truly outstanding shows in the Opera House including Jesus Christ Superstar, Lord of the Dance, The Glenn Miller Story, the world premiere of Last Night a DJ Saved My Life starring David Hasselhoff and of course, a fantastic eight-week run of Cats.
"All the shows have been very well received throughout the year while Illuminasia had the best weekly attendances of 2015 during October half-term.”
The autumn visitor numbers come on the back of a hugely successful events programme which started with the two-day Blackpool Air Show in early August, followed by Ride The Lights, the high-profile Illuminations Switch-On weekend and four free fireworks events, each attended by tens of thousands of spectators.
This year also saw the launch of the new LightPool project – a £2m investment in the Illuminations which has been used to develop spectacular projection shows on the front of the Tower building.
Cllr Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “While we won’t have the full year visitor numbers until early 2016, all of the autumn indicators show that this has been a record-breaking Lights season.
“This illustrates the critical importance of the investment that we make in the events programme, in destination marketing and in the annual Illuminations display.
“This year’s October half term has been astonishing and makes up for what was a relatively slow start to the year. It is hard to imagine any other resort destination in the UK that is capable of attracting such an incredible number of visitors outside of the summer months.”
A spokesperson for Blackpool Pleasure Beach commented: “We have enjoyed a strong end to the 2015 season at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. This has been bolstered by a number of hugely successful events including Vampire Pleasure Beach, our annual Halloween event, our first ever Titanium dance event, and our final Late Night Riding event of the season.
“Many visitors enjoyed the unseasonably good weather throughout the October Half Term and took the opportunity to ride until 8pm each evening. Overall 2015 has been a good season at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, the highlight being the launch of our new Red Arrows Skyforce in May which was celebrated with a display by the Red Arrows. This was enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors and residents.”
The Grand Theatre had an excellent summer season (1 August – 8 November) with a 39% increase in ticket sales compared with last year. Shows like ‘The Full Monty’, ‘Thriller’ and Tim Vine sold out completely and contributed to the 41,102 total tickets sold across the period. Chief Executive, Ruth Eastwood, said ‘thanks to the strong choice of programme and the hard work of our staff and volunteers, 2015 has been a great year for the Grand with customers coming from far and wide to enjoy a great night out in Blackpool’.
Although the Illuminations have now been switched off, Blackpool continues to generate enormous amounts of PR through high-profile TV coverage including the Strictly Come Dancing show at Blackpool Tower Ballroom on Saturday 21 November which will be televised on BBC1 over two nights.
VisitBlackpool is the tourism arm of Blackpool Council and is tasked with promoting the UK's most popular holiday destination to leisure and business visitors, both domestically and internationally.