Coping with Covid restrictions is a tall order for Blackpool’s tourism economy

Blackpool Tower SOS visitor economy hit tier 3 lockdown
Image: Facebook / Susan Dewsnap-Goodall
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Blackpool is a resort that’s synonymous with the amusements industry and the appeal of the traditional British seaside holiday. However, following its Tier 3 status operators are referring to a ‘chaos of silence’ as the once vibrant visitor economy transforms into a ghost town; one lit up in a warning red last week as Blackpool Tower signalled an SOS message from a town facing ‘irreparable damage’.

 

The iconic Blackpool Tower which has become a symbol for the unique tourism welcome offered by the Lancashire resort was lit – up last week issuing a dramatic and powerful SOS plea urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to save the historic seaside town from commercial disaster brought about by its Tier 3 status.

Civic leaders joined forces with the business community to organise an open letter, signed by representatives of more than 1,000 businesses. The letter, which was delivered to Downing Street, outlined the plight of Blackpool’s hard-hit tourism industry, describing it as a perfect storm. It highlighted the consequences for a location where tourism is worth £1.6bn annually and supports more than 25,000 jobs.

Coun Lynn Williams, leader of Blackpool council, said: “The speed at which our tourism economy has unravelled on the back of the lockdown restrictions is alarming.

“What has become totally apparent is that the measures that have been put in place are nowhere near enough to support a tourism economy like Blackpool’s.

“We have hundreds of businesses here that were not included in any of the government’s temporary closure orders but due to the imposition of regulations and advice relating to travel are more likely facing permanent closure.”

Blackpool’s famous large attractions are now operating with dramatically-reduced numbers of visitors and with expenditure far outweighing income. Kate Shane, of Merlin Entertainments, confirmed: “As a tourism industry we find ourselves in uncharted waters. Losing the Easter and May bank holidays was a terrible start to the tourism season, but to lose the most important two weeks of the year in October half-term is catastrophic.

“We feel we have done everything asked of us and more. All we ask in return is that the government does right by us and puts in place bespoke measures that will help all of Blackpool’s tourism businesses get to the other side of this crisis.”

Tourism leaders believe there is a real prospect that large numbers of businesses, the majority of them independently-owned will ‘not survive beyond the year-end’.

The move to ‘very high’ alert category has come around the critical October half-term break when so me businesses make up to 20 per cent of their total annual income. Supply chain businesses have also seen their income all but disappear.


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