13 December 2023
Credit: VisitBlackpool

The sheer scale of Blackpool’s post-pandemic recovery has been revealed in new tourism figures, which show that the annual number of visitors in 2022 surged past 20 million.

The annual STEAM report, which analyses data from tourism and hospitality businesses, shows that the resort attracted a further 1.5 million visitors to what was a record year in 2021.

The total figure of 20.33 million is more than double the figure recorded in 2020 when pandemic restrictions on tourism were at the most severe and 12% higher than the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

Across Lancashire as a whole, the report shows that visitor numbers are showing strong recovery across all districts, but have not yet reached pre-pandemic levels. The exception is Blackpool where the number of visitors has surged, largely due to the extension of the season into the winter months.

The report, which evaluates the volume and value of visitors to Lancashire, shows that Blackpool accounted for more than 30% of all visits to the county in 2022.

It values the resort’s tourism economy at more than £1.7bn compared to £1.4bn in 2021, supporting in excess of 22,000 jobs.

The gains made during 2022 were fuelled by the return of large-scale events such as the Air Show Weekend, another two-month extension of the autumn Illuminations season and an expansion of the hugely successful Christmas By The Sea village.

There was also a £1m investment in a multi-media marketing campaign featuring a new TV ad starring “resort ambassador”, Nigel C Gull, a lovable seagull puppet voiced by actor and comedian Johnny Vegas.

That advertising campaign across Scotland and northern England incorporated TV, video on demand, digital and radio, and was co-funded by Blackpool Council, Merlin Entertainments and Blackpool’s Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID).

Cllr Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council, said the figures for 2022 reflected the ongoing commitment to investing in large-scale events and marketing.

Cllr Williams added: “We clearly had an advantage in 2021 because people in the UK were largely restricted to domestic holidays and we were determined to capitalise on that opportunity.

“It is extremely encouraging that we have not just retained the numbers that we attracted in that initial bounce-back year, but shown incremental growth in 2022.

“That is on the back of some brilliant partnership working across the resort which has seen the launch of new events, more impactful marketing and an extension of the tourism season into November and December.”

This year to date, the resort has seen record numbers attending its free events programme, including the two-day Air Show, three world fireworks events, the award-winning Lightpool Festival, and an Illuminations Switch-On event that featured a Nickelodeon float parade along the Golden Mile.

The Christmas By The Sea event, which includes a free skating rink, artificial snowfalls, light projection shows, log cabins and large-scale light installations is open daily (bar Christmas Day) until January 1, complemented by six miles of Illuminations along the seafront.

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