Blackpool enjoyed one of its busiest Easter weekends in over 20 years as thousands of families flocked to the resort to make the most of the sunshine.
Bookings at all the major attractions soared and Blackpool FC’s win at Preston, coupled with a number of other sporting events, meant the town kicked off the 2009 season in the best possible way.
Tourism and hospitality bosses believe visitors opted for a long weekend in Blackpool, rather than jetting off abroad.
Ian Thorpe, secretary of hoteliers group, Blackpool Combined Association, said: “It was like we had gone back 20 years with the numbers who were here.”
Bookings at the Pleasure Beach were up a fifth on Easter 2008 while long queues built up outside Blackpool’s newest attraction, the Golden Isle miniature golf centre in the former Festival Mall on the Promenade.
Michael Williams, operations director for Leisure Parcs, said: “Easter has been a very encouraging start to the season with all our sites doing well.
“The Tower was busy all weekend with families but our biggest boost has been with the new golf attraction. We had to open earlier to cope with demand. It’s been a very good Easter for Blackpool.”
Blackpool’s biggest attraction, the Pleasure Beach, has seen advanced sales soar by 20 per cent this year.
A spokesman for the Pleasure Beach said: “The Pleasure Beach has enjoyed a good Easter weekend.
“Thousands of families have been taking advantage of the good weather we have been having and visited the park.
“We have had a very encouraging start to the year as advanced sales are up 20 per cent year to date compared with last season.”
And the Sandcastle WaterPark has seen visitor numbers double over the Easter break.
Manager John Child said: “We have been extremely busy; in fact we probably are double in figures of what we were last year.
“Blackpool is proving to the rest of the country that we can bounce back and we have the attractions to do so.
“Let’s hope this continues for the rest of the season.”
Apart from the attractions, hundreds of people came to town for the Easter hockey festival at Stanley Park and the youth soccer tournament in Marton with teams represented from across Europe.
The visitor boom meant hotels throughout Blackpool were packed.
Clare Smith, of Number One South Beach and Number One St Luke’s, said she had been quiet but the more affordable end of the market had been busy.
She said: “We were quiet but I believe the lower end has been doing really well. However our corporate business in March was amazing.”
Coun Maxine Callow, cabinet member for tourism and regeneration at Blackpool Council, said she was delighted the resort had been so busy.
She said: “People are finding it really expensive to go abroad because of the poor exchange rate on the euro. Blackpool has always been good value for money and now we have the quality as well.
“Hopefully everyone who came for the Easter weekend has had a good experience and will go home and tell their friends and neighbours that things are improving in Blackpool.”
A spokesman for Blackpool Tourism said: “The weather has helped bring in hundreds more families to the resort and we are delighted with the response.
“Even at night the Promenade has been very busy which is great to see. We hope this will be a pre-cursor for the rest of the season.”
Ian Thorpe added: “Everyone on our street was very busy and it wasn’t just last minute bookings.
“People had booked in advance, although there were some door knockers.
“Looking at the seafront, It was like we had gone back 20 years with the numbers.
“If it continues like this, we are in for a very good season.”