Blackpool to ‘prove itself’ as top place to stay as tourism staff train for reopening
The boss of some of Blackpool’s most popular attractions has said now is the time for the resort to prove it is the best place to vacation.
Through three lockdowns and various tier systems, Blackpool’s family attractions have been devastated by the impact on their businesses.
Merlin Entertainments, which owns Blackpool Tower, Circus, Madame Tussauds, Tower Dungeon and Ballroom, employed 350 people before COVID but was forced to downsize by a third when the pandemic struck.
Kate Shane, director of Merlin Entertainments in Blackpool, said she was delighted that outdoor attractions and shops could reopen on April 12 – subject to any changes in infection rates, it was a ‘bitter pill’ to swallow that indoor venues must remain closed until May 17.
“It’s very disappointing for us because I think we can demonstrate extreme levels of safety,” she said.
“It’s a bit of a bitter pill to swallow and it’s still waiting for the timetables to materialize, so if there are any spikes, they’ll put the brakes on.”
While indoor attractions may reopen from May 17, the circus will only officially open on Saturday May 22, as Kate says “there is nothing worse than performing in front of a quiet audience.”
“We are really looking forward to seeing everyone again and hearing the sounds of people having fun,” she added.
Although sometimes in the past 12 months certain attractions were allowed to open, they only ran at 30% of capacity, which Kate explains was just enough to break even. .
“He washed his face,” she said. “And it was a huge success. We didn’t make a lot of profit, it came at a cost, but it meant we could open up.
Even when parts of the complex could open, Kate was disappointed to see the streets empty of visitors.
“I climbed to the top of the Blackpool Tower and looked down and while normally it would be bumper to bumper cars and people swarming on the sidewalks, it was more like a case of “spotting the human,” that was really sad. ”she said.
To prepare for the grand reopening, Merlin staff had to undergo rigorous training, as it had been 12 months since they last worked, and the company also recognized the need to ensure the mental health of employees.
Kate is concerned that there is “potentially a COVID generation” whose opportunities and lives have been deeply affected by the pandemic.
“It’s going to take a while to get out of this,” she added. “We don’t want these young people, especially those between the ages of 16 and 20, to be a legacy of COVID. “
Despite the negative impact of the coronavirus on Blackpool, Kate believes there is now an ‘ideal opportunity’ for the resort to take advantage of the public’s shift to the idea of a stay.
“The demand for stay is a huge opportunity, especially as people are more suspicious, and not yet allowed, to travel abroad,” she said.
“It’s a huge opportunity. Do I think we are really in a good position for this? Yes, absolutely.
“We have all the ingredients to give people a great stay and it’s up to us to win.
“Blackpool has something to fill every hour of every day.
“It’s our job now to make sure we provide visitors with an exceptional experience.
“When they come down the M55, we want them to say ‘we’re going back’ and we want them to recommend us.