Bad weather blamed for 'mixed' Blackpool tourism season

Poor weather during 2019 hit Blackpool’s tourism industry with some indicators showing the season was less successful than the previous year.

Figures collected by Blackpool Council show footfall dropped in the town centre and on the Promenade, while there was also a fall in the number of car park tickets sold.

However more visitors arrived by train in 2019 compared to 2018, and sales of the Resort Pass which gives people cheaper admission to a number of key attractions, rose.

The data covering April to October is included in the tourism performance report due to go before the council’s tourism, economy and communities scrutiny committee on Wednesday January 8.

The report says the indicators illustrate “what appears to have been a season of mixed fortunes for the resort with a very positive Easter (April), August bank holiday, and final week of October half-term.”

It is believed good weather boosted Easter and August bank holiday visitor numbers while the events programme with the Illuminations and Lightpool drew in large numbers during October.

But the report adds “other parts of the season were adversely affected by inconsistent weather, with the Met Office reporting the summer as one of the wettest on record.”

Severe weather affected the resort’s summer events programme with one day of the Blackpool Air Show weekend cancelled and the other day going ahead with a slimmed-down programme.

Claire Smith, president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said the 2019 season had been challenging.

She said: “The staycation definitely didn’t happen,  but now we have a political situation where we know more clearly where we’re going I’m hoping that will have a stabilising effect.

“When people are feeling uncertainty, they hold back on their money because they don’t know what they will need it for.”

The figures show town centre footfall was down to 10.9 million between April and October 2019 compared to 11.6 million in 2018.

Footfall on the Promenade dropped to 3.8 million from 4.2 million over the same time.

Footfall cameras capture movement rather than individual people, so numbers are not precise but are more a measure of trends.

Car park ticket sales were slightly down by 2,628 from 772,969 in 2018 to 770,341 in 2019 but some months saw record figures in 2018, with the overall trend remaining steady.

Rail passenger arrivals were up by nearly 56,000 to 782,637, after 2018 figures were badly impacted by cancelled services.

There was also good news in terms of sales of the Resort Pass which have gone up from 16,288 to 17,730 with 19,000 sales during the whole of 2019.

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