Blue flag status and Brexit credited with increase in visitors choosing to stay over
Blackpool’s hoteliers are hoping for one of their best seasons in recent years - with figures predicting more people are set to stay overnight in the resort.
Factors ranging from Brexit to a Blue Flag for the beach are being credited for helping boost the resort.
Analysis by online booking specialist eviivo shows advanced bookings for Blackpool’s b&bs is up by more than 14 per cent compared to the same time last year.
Other operators have backed the figures, with one saying his advanced bookings are up 21 per cent.
Tony Banks, pictured left, of Blackpool Promotions, said: “Blackpool now has an ideal opportunity to stamp its mark back on the holiday market.”
There is no gloom at the inn. Our b&b customers are seeing two benefits from a lower pound
Eviivo has analysed data from more than 5,000 B&Bs nationwide, including in Blackpool.
It says a combination of a low pound, the Brexit vote and the triggering of Article 50 has delivered a surge in bookings.
Its chief marketing officer Thomas Messett said: “There’s no doubt the Brexit vote and subsequent invoking of Article 50 have had a measurable positive impact on bookings at Britain’s B&Bs.
“There is no gloom at the inn. Our b&b customers are seeing two benefits from a lower pound.
“First, more bookings from UK consumers concerned about their reduced spending power abroad.
“Second, an increase in bookings from international customers, keen to take the opportunity to enjoy a British break at a favourable exchange rate.”
Mr Messett added: “Seaside b&b bookings in towns like Blackpool have been especially buoyant since the Brexit vote.
“The British seaside offers incredible variety, as our clients in this famous seaside resort will testify.
“There are some fantastic, unique and quirky b&bs and guest houses in Blackpool that make for a really memorable British seaside experience and its great to see these local businesses thriving.”
Eviivo’s research shows nationally forward bookings are up 19.2 per year on year, and up 14.4 per cent in Blackpool.
They compared advanced bookings in place by the end of March this year, with the same period last year.
Mr Banks, who owns five hotels in Blackpool boasting a total of 400 rooms, said their advanced bookings were up 21 per cent this year.
He said: “Foreign holidays look cheap but when you get there, because of the exchange rates, your money doesn’t go as far so people are turning more to short breaks and staycations.
“In the short term, Blackpool is really going to benefit from this.
“And now we also have the product and people who haven’t been for years are starting to come back to Blackpool.
“But expectations are high and we have to step up to the mark.”
Tony Urmson, of Yes Hotels, which is an accreditation company with more than 200 Blackpool hotels on its books, said: “We have hotels that last year had three rooms booked, but this year are full.
“I think a 14 per cent increase in forward bookings is right, but I don’t think it’s because of Brexit.
“It’s because Blackpool Council and attractions such as the Pleasure Beach have been promoting Blackpool so well nationally, and we have things like getting a Blue Flag for the beach.
“People are returning for events and a lot of guesthouses are raising their standards.
“I’m a hotel inspector and I’m visiting a lot of hotels which were good last year, but this year they are very good.”
Helen Mansell, vice-president of StayBlackpool, said: “With world events as they are, I think the staycation is really taking off and also the £1 is weak when you go abroad.
“So Blackpool must pull out all the stops to welcome visitors and build on a good year.
“I think when the new conference centre is built, Blackpool will be able to host even more events and there will be opportunity to attract more visitors from overseas as well.”
Steve Fazakerley, pictured far left with wife Elaine, of the Arthington Guest House on St Chad’s Road, South Shore, which was voted ‘best b&b and best value for money’ by reviewers on travel website Trivago in 2016, said; “Our forward bookings are up, but speaking to some people, their’s aren’t.But I definitely think it’s going to be a good year.
“There are a lot of positive things happening here and word has got out.”
UK’s top seaside destination
Figures released at the start of this year indicated Blackpool was already starting to benefit in 2016 from more people choosing to holiday in the UK.
Footfall on the Promenade increased by more than a third last year during the height of summer according to figures unveiled by tourism leaders.
A total of 955,116 people were drawn to the seafront last August – compared to 700,496 in 2015 – a rise of 36 per cent.
Between April and December 2016 footfall on the Promenade totalled just over five million.
It had risen each year since 2013 when the figure was just over 4.1 million.
Figures from the council’s tourism performance report covering April to December last year, also showed around one million in-bound rail passengers, compared to 916,601 in 2013.
Other positive indicators from last year’s season included nearly 4.4 million tram passengers compared to 3.7 million in 2013.
Figures from Visit Britain placed Blackpool as the UK’s top seaside destination, with 8.6 million day visits generating spending of £406m.
Philip Welsh, Head of Visitor Economy for Blackpool Council, cited a number of factors but said: “Some of this growth can clearly be attributed to the weakening of the pound post-Brexit and concerns over travelling into mainland Europe, both of which created a staycation ‘bounce’ in the UK.”