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Agenda item


To consider tourism performance in 2021 including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the visitor economy and the measures that are in place to aid its recovery.


Mr Philip Welsh, Head of Tourism and Communications, presented an update on tourism performance and the measures that had been put in place to aid the sectors’ recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic. He informed the Committee that compared with the last full tourist season in 2019, the 2021 season had shown strong signs of recovery. Ongoing support for tourism would include the extension of the Illuminations period to January 2022. This would help attract more visitors over the winter period and enhance Blackpool’s tourism offer.


The Committee queried if the increased footfall outlined in the report had correlated into an increase in bookings at hotels and bed and breakfasts. Mr Welsh responded that reporting on the level of bookings had taken place through the Tourism Recovery Group and had shown positive feedback and strong bookings for 2022. He added that the level of secondary spend had also been shown to be very good.


Capturing customers through the use of marketing for the 2022 seasons was also discussed. Mr Welsh reported that conversations had been taking place with tourism partners to ensure that this would be possible. Due to the restrictions and challenges faced by Blackpool during the pandemic, the Council had led on the marketing for 2021 but it was intended that partners would lead for 2022 and determine how to “sell” the resort to potential visitors.


The cost of the Illuminations Switch-On was queried by the Committee. In response Mr Welsh explained that the switch on event was organised by MTV with a fee being paid by the Council, details of which could be provided following the meeting. He added that the Council also had input into the event as part of the negotiation with MTV to stage it. The Committee also noted that MTV would be staging two further events to support the switch on at their own cost.


The decision to hold the World Fireworks Championship on a Saturday during the Illuminations was queried, with members noting that it would be a very busy evening as a result. In response Mr Welsh explained that normally the fireworks would be launched from the North Pier, however this was unavailable for the 2021 event. Therefore the beach had to be utilised, which meant a date when the tide was low enough for the event to take place had to be selected. The Saturdays had been chosen as the tides were suitable and it was considered the best day to encourage visitors to also spend in the town centre and other venues. Following the event Mr Welsh confirmed that the staging of the event would be reviewed to determine its success.


Members of the Committee raised the issue of temporary holiday accommodation, such as Air BnBs, in Blackpool. These type of holiday lets were only available for a limited number days in a year and therefore were subject to less regulations than more traditional accommodation such as hotels. Councillor Williams, Leader of the Council informed the Committee that the Council was aware of the issue but that greater understanding was needed of the scale of the industry in Blackpool. It was therefore requested that the issue of temporary holiday accommodation be added to the Committee’s Work Programme. It was suggested to support this that a report be prepared to determine the scale and scope of such accommodation and its impact on Blackpool.


Mr Welsh also informed the Committee that work was being undertaken to consider new ways to deliver the Illuminations. This had included the establishment of a festival style installation on the headlands. A report on this work and the actions undertaken following the Illuminations Scrutiny Review Panel, held on 27 April 2021, would be brought to the 8 December 2021 meeting of the Committee.


Members of the Committee noted the contribution of the Beach Patrol during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensuring public safety and asked that its thanks be recorded and conveyed to the patrol members.


The Committee agreed:


1.         To add the issue of temporary holiday accommodation in Blackpool to the work programme.

2.         That the Committee’s thanks be recorded and conveyed to the Beach Patrol.

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