Blackpool sends SOS to prime minister

Blackpool has sent an open letter to the government urging it to save the resort from 'irreparable damage'.

Addressed prime minister Boris Johnson, more than 1,000 businesses shared how the Tier 3 restrictions - imposed during peak tourism weeks for the town - has resulted in mass cancellations of hotel and attraction bookings.

The letter describes how the timing of the Tier 3 announcement could not have been worse, falling on the eve of the October half-term holidays, a period that can account for up to 20 per cent of total annual income for some businesses. Dozens of businesses may close, at the cost of hundreds of jobs.

The letter also states that the announcement, which gave just eight hours’ notice of restrictions coming into effect, created chaos and mass confusion amongst people who were unsure as to where they could travel, and what they could and could not do, leading to a collapse in consumer confidence. 

Within hours, most were looking at cancellations on an “unimaginable” scale. As a direct consequence, hotels and guest houses that should have been full during this October half-term period lie virtually empty.  

The large attractions that employ substantial numbers of local people are operating with dramatically-reduced numbers of visitors and with expenditure far outweighing income, and the supply chains that rely on a thriving tourist economy have seen their income all but disappear.

Kate Shane, head of cluster for Merlin Entertainments said: "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. 

"Throughout this pandemic we have fully supported the Government efforts. We invested significant amounts in training, PPE and enhanced measures to ensure we were COVID safe for all of our guests and employees before we re-opened in July. 

"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.  

"If they don’t, it jeopardises the years of investment that has been made in resort regeneration as we seek to create a brighter future for the UK’s favourite resort."

Cllr Lynn Williams, leader of Blackpool Council, said: "The speed at which our tourism economy has unravelled on the back of last week’s 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."  

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