Blackpool begs PM for support as Tier 3 restrictions leaves tourism decimated

23 October 2020, 18:12 | Updated: 23 October 2020, 21:51

Blackpool entertainment chief says now is Boris Johnsons chance 'to do what he said he would do'

By Fiona Jones

Boris Johnson has been told "now is the time" to help level up the north, as Blackpool's tourism industries are threatened by "confusing" Tier 3 restrictions.

Large swathes of Northern England are currently under Tier 3 restrictions, and tourism has been hit hard in popular seaside resorts like Blackpool, which is reliant on the trade.

Kate Shane, Merlin Attractions chief in the town, has said now is the time for the Prime Minister to step forward and save the area in line with his promise around the time of the general election last year.

She told LBC: "Boris this is your time, your opportunity, your chance, to actually do what you said you were going to do.

"The North put their strength behind you. The red wall came down, you are going to do the levelling up for the north, now's the time to do it and now is the perfect place."

Restrictions are wreaking havoc on the tourism industry, especially in Blackpool which is reliant on the trade.
Restrictions are wreaking havoc on the tourism industry, especially in Blackpool which is reliant on the trade. Picture: PA

In an open letter to Mr Johnson, 1000 representatives of tourism businesses have called for financial support after the restrictions announced a week ago have led to mass cancellation in the two of busiest weeks of the year.

Normally, between 15 and 20% of the town's annual income is taken within the October half-term fortnight.

Merlin Attractions runs entertainment at Blackpool Tower, the Sea Life Centre and Madame Tussauds; MS Shane told LBC that usually on a half-term Friday, the area would be "bustling."

Instead she pointed to the entirely empty promenade: "We're in Tier Three, there's complete confusion and chaos with our customers, and that's basically leading to everything that's almost closure for us.

Covid restrictions have been catastrophic for Blackpool

"We have our attractions open, our Pleasure Beach is open, all of the BnBs and hotels, it should be bustling. This is Blackpool's busiest trading of the year. Because of the confusion, there's nobody here."

Ms Shane was given "eight hours notice" that Blackpool was in Tier Three like the rest of Lancashire and within a six hour window, over 1000 customers had cancelled, asked for refunds or asked if it was still safe to visit.

She reiterated that the attractions in Blackpool are Covid-safe and they have all invested a lot of time in training and PPE: "To do all of that and then to get to October half-term, and to have the rug pulled from underneath us, it's heartbreaking for us."

Councils "will be supported" in implementing local lockdowns

Ms Shane told LBC that the coastal resorts have "absolutely not" been supported by the Government: "Now this is the chance to actually do some levelling up.

"To take away what is the main industry in the resort, 25,000 people employed in tourism in Blackpool, take that away at the last point at which people an earn any money before winter sets in, it's catastrophic for us."

Ms Shane fears there will be a lack of consumer confidence going forward, being able to retain employees and retaining the loyalty of regular Blackpool customers.