This year’s Blackpool Illuminations are more than just a grand display of flashing lights; they represent a town with a bright future, and one that can illuminate the way for Britain’s seaside resorts.
The future of Blackpool is as bright as last weekend’s illuminations,according to the resort’s operators, who welcomed 130,000 visitors over the weekend for celebrations and fireworks that will continue throughout September.
“The switch on was fantastic for me,there were thousands of people,” exclaimed Chris Higgitt, owner of Higgitt’s Las Vegas Arcade. “It was brilliant, and we also had the Britney Spears concert as well on the Saturday, which generated an awful lot of people coming in.From a business point of view it was fantastic.
We’ve actually had a very good season in general because of the heat and the sunshine – I’m up 15 percent in revenue up to now.”
However, the great sense of optimism surrounding Blackpool in 2018 is not just down to a fortuitous climate, with Higgitt giving credit where credit is due to the town’s council.
“We’re definitely going in the right direction, of course there’s always bits and pieces to complain about, but the council always get the people in for the illuminations,” he continued. “They were headlined by Britney Spears, supported by Pitbull, and then from this Friday we’ve got World Fireworks Championships every Friday in September, and they bring thousands of people in.”
While at the tail end of her fame, Britney is a strong booking for Blackpool on the back of an award-winning four-year Las Vegas residency between 2013-2017.Indeed, despite the town’s super-casino plan never quite coming together, Blackpool Council are still using the Vegas-model as rough guide – evidenced by its construction of the Winter Gardens Conference Centre, which is set for completion by summer 2019.
“We’re a destination,and as a destination we need to have something that’s not available in every town so that we bring people in from the surrounding area,” explained Higgitt. “Over the past decade Manchester overtook us in terms of facilities,but Blackpool Council have identified this and done some work with Winter Gardens, as well as improving the accommodation offer.”
This will also help Blackpool to broaden its reputation with the public, as well as gain it the respect it deserves from political parties – with the Tories considering a return for their party conference next year.
“The people who come to a party conference don’t come into my arcade, but there’s a knock on effect because Blackpool’s all over the television, so its free marketing for us,” concluded Higgitt. “The more you say ‘Blackpool, Blackpool, Blackpool’, the more people start coming to it. The more they hear it, the more it’s in the subconscious. We need to keep the city as a positive, high-agenda item in the news.”