After Southport was announced as the recipient of one of the government’s £40m Towns Fund packages, Pleasureland CEO Norman Wallis has hailed the investment as “a great catalyst for the town.”
The owner of Southport’s Pleasureland has hailed the town’s £37.5m slice of the government’s Towns Fund as “marvellous news” for the Merseyside resort.
Norman Wallis, the theme park’s CEO and member of the Southport Town Deal board, said the investment will help the area recover from an “absolutely devastating” year.
“It’s marvellous news,” Wallis told the BBC. “It’s a great catalyst for the town.”
The investment, which the board believe could deliver a further 1.2 million visitors to the town and add £44.6m a year to the economy, forms part of the £1bn awarded by the government to help local authorities recover from the pandemic and invest in the community.
Though impact may not be immediate, the funding will help Sefton Council launch long-term investment strategies to benefit key industries such as tourism and hospitality.
“We are going to have these things that bring more visitors in that will increase spend in the town and open some of the empty units,” said chair of the Southport Business Improvement Development Susannah Porter.
“The issue [is] these projects are all going to take five years to get off the ground and finished. There is a bright future but we have got to look that far ahead.”
For many businesses however, the immediate vote of confidence in the town offers some hope for Southport’s future as a tourist resort, including for Pleasureland, with Wallis adding the pandemic had cost the attraction “millions of pounds” in revenue, alongside “an awful lot of money to keep people safe.”
Hospitality businesses such as Bliss Hotel – which saw bookings drop 80 percent this year – are also hopeful the investment is a herald of good things to come for the town.
“There seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel now,” said GM James Wood. “We’re already seeing high demand for the summer months.”
“I think this Christmas will be the best we’ve ever had with people just desperate to get out and see friends and family.”