Tourism boom for Lancashire

Lancashire’s tourism sector has started to boom again with Blackpool leading the way, according to new figures.

Visitor numbers to the region in 2021 rose to 51.51m from 23.8m in 2020 generating an economic impact of £3.51bn, up from £1.7bn in the previous year.

That’s according to the county’s annual STEAM report, which evaluates the volume and value of visitors to Lancashire.

The report, released today by Marketing Lancashire, analyses data from tourism and hospitality businesses gathered for 2021 and shows the county recovering steadily from the impact of the Covid pandemic.

Rachel McQueen, CEO of Marketing Lancashire, said: “Having been through the unprecedented challenges of the Covid pandemic on the tourism and hospitality sector, we are very much encouraged by the findings of the new STEAM report, which shows Lancashire businesses recovering well, no doubt due to their hard work and determination to welcome visitors back.

“Visitor numbers grew to around 75% of pre Covid levels and economic impact was at 80% of the £4.4bn reported in 2018. Considering Lancashire was amongst the destinations most disrupted by local as well as national lockdowns, this positive news is further testament to the resilience and innovation of our brilliant sector and colleagues.

“Blackpool in particular saw an increase in day visitor numbers over pre-Covid levels, attracting visitors well into the autumn and winter months.”

She continued: “As life crept back to some normality, we saw increasing visits to friends and family in Lancashire, eager to see each other after long periods apart and, with overseas travel still not without its problems, Lancashire, along with other destinations, benefitted from more day-trips and holidays spent here in the UK.

“As an industry we have certainly all worked incredibly hard to encourage visitors back to Lancashire and to achieve this more positive result.

“We know we cannot afford to be complacent as the challenges of rising energy costs and the increased cost of living now pose new threats, but we are committed to continuing to do all we can to help return to the healthy levels of annual growth that we experienced before Covid.”

Up to 2018 Lancashire’s visitor economy had enjoyed six years of consecutive growth. As the pandemic hit in 2020 and with many businesses closed and employees furloughed, a comparable county-wide STEAM report for 2019 was not possible.

However, Marketing Lancashire was able to gather the data for 2020, vital to demonstrate the impact of the pandemic on the sector, and has now returned to tracking on an annual basis.

County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, leader of Lancashire County Council, and Chair of Lancashire Leaders, said: “This report is hugely reassuring that Lancashire is starting to see the return of more visitors to our county. Lancashire is a beautiful county, with a wealth of culture and a lot to offer.

“These encouraging new figures are a testament to our resilience as a region.

“Together with our colleagues, partners and a wide range of local and regional organisations, we are working hard to move forward from the financial challenges we have faced in recent years, to build a new future for Lancashire and embrace opportunities that allow us to grow and offer more to our residents, businesses and visitors.”

During 2021 Marketing Lancashire was successful in securing £80,000 from the VisitEngland Destination Management Organisations’ Recovery Marketing Fund, for the #RediscoverLancashire – Escape the everyday campaign.

A campaign that encouraged visitors to return to the county for unique bookable experiences, to increase short breaks and boost visitor spend.

Lancashire attractions and destinations also featured in national initiatives focused on England’s Coast, which targeted domestic and international visitors, and England Originals (highlighting historic cities) which targeted the domestic Millennial market.

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