‘Blackpool Is Booming’ to showcase £25m Winter Gardens extension

Winter Gardens conference centre

Blackpool is aiming to reclaim its position as the UK’s premiere conference and events destination with a reinvigorated business tourism offer unpinned by hundreds of millions of pounds worth of private and public investment.

This includes new amenities, upgraded accommodation, improved infrastructure and better transport connectivity.

At the heart of the new Blackpool Is Booming business tourism campaign, to be launched at The Meeting Show which takes place at Olympia in London from tomorrow (Tuesday, June 13) to Wednesday (June 15).

Key to the proposals proposals is the planned new £25m Blackpool Conference & Exhibition Centre which was announced in a speech by Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this year.

Developed as an extension to the world-famous Winter Gardens, the new state-of-the-art 65,000sq ft conference space will be able to host an additional 2,000 people, bringing the total Winter Gardens’ capacity to more than 7,000.

Due to be operational in Spring 2019, the conference centre’s opening will coincide with the arrival of three new purpose-built hotels within the resort which have already been granted planning, with two additional new hotels currently awaiting final approval.

If all five hotels are successfully developed this will add an additional 700 rooms of four-star or above to Blackpool’s existing hotel stock, including 156 rooms adjacent to the new Winter Gardens development.

Another transformational element which will be highlighted in the campaign will be the forthcoming electrification of the Blackpool to Preston rail line due to be completed next May. This will result in an increase in the number of direct services to Blackpool from London and other major towns and cities across the UK.

Simultaneously, Blackpool is set to get a new tram interchange at Blackpool North Station that will result in the resort’s Promenade tramway system linking to the main rail network.

This means that for the very first-time visitors from across the country will be able to travel directly to Blackpool by train and then seamlessly transfer to bus and tram services which reach every part of the town.

Such increased accessibility also means that delegates attending events at the new Winter Gardens conference centre will be able to explore the whole of the resort including world-class attractions such as the iconic Blackpool Tower, Madame Tussauds, Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Blackpool Zoo.

Visitors will also get to enjoy the £250m transformation of the Blackpool seafront, a six-year project which has seen the creation of six new headlands, the development of the sweeping Spanish steps which lead right onto the beach, the celebrated 2,200 square metre ‘Comedy Carpet’ opposite the Blackpool Tower, and the remodelling of the Blackpool Promenade.

Central to the Blackpool Is Booming proposition is the increasingly strong partnership between Blackpool Council, the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), and private sector partners drawn from across the town’s leisure, accommodation and visitor attraction sectors.

This is illustrated by the collaboration between the Winter Gardens operators (the Blackpool Entertainment Company), Visit Blackpool (the council-backed tourist destination marketing organisation) and the LEP which led to the successful bid for government funding for the new Winter Gardens conference and exhibition centre.

The  partnership approach is  reinforced by both the Blackpool Entertainment Company and Visit Blackpool are exhibiting together at The Meeting Show.

Alan Cavill, director of Places for Blackpool Council, said: “Over the last five years both Blackpool’s public and private sectors have steadily invested hundreds of millions in improving, upgrading and refreshing the resort’s overall business tourism and leisure offer which helped us to successfully make the case to government for the new £25m Conference & Exhibition Centre.

“This, combined with the proposals for several new high-grade hotels on our doorstep, and the  massive transport improvements set to transform the town’s connectivity with the whole of the UK, means soon Blackpool will once again offer a dynamic, diverse and unique delegate experience which will be unrivalled in the UK.”

Michael Williams, managing director of the Blackpool Entertainment Company, said: “With an increased capacity for up to 7,000 delegates, the expanded Winter Gardens complex will be able to bid for more international shows and even bigger expos than we host currently. In addition, we will be actively targeting conferences, exhibitions and events that we previously hosted, but which have since relocated elsewhere.”

“This, combined with the £500m of capital investment across the resort into new accommodation, better transport links and improved amenities, will be at the heart of the ‘Blackpool Is Booming’ campaign which we are launching at London’s Olympia next week alongside our partners Visit Blackpool.

“It’s an upbeat and confident message which is not just based on an aspiration, it’s based on the fact the investment is already here and is already making a tangible impact on the whole of the town.”