Lancashire

Blackpool bids to end 'stag do' image

Blackpool
Image caption Blackpool wants to reinforce its family-friendly status

Blackpool is planning a drive to attract more families - to help rid the resort of its image as a destination only for stag and hen parties.

The town is set to boast new attractions including Nickelodeon Land and a revamped Tower.

There will also be a range of shows on offer aimed at tempting young families to the town.

Director of tourism Helen France said the move should end "old perceptions" of Blackpool.

She explained: "We're really pushing Blackpool as a family resort. We're giving people more reasons to visit and a larger variety of things to do when they get here.

"Visitor numbers went down with the onset of cheap overseas holidays and levelled to around eight or nine million.

"They are definitely up now and we want to extend that trend."

She said hen and stag dos were still welcome.

"In theory, there is nothing wrong with them; it is anti-social behaviour that is the problem but the council has been very rigorous in tackling this in the last few years."

Despite budget cuts, Blackpool is hoping for a "bumper season" this year as it unveils a host of new attractions aimed at enticing families to the town.

Image caption Blackpool's new tramway will be unveiled in June

Last year, 13 million people flocked to Blackpool and Ms France says they are hoping to top that figure in 2011.

Nickelodeon Land and the revamped Tower featuring a Blackpool Dungeon and Madame Tussauds will open this season.

They are at the forefront of the town's "big push" to bring in families.

The season gets an early kick-start of family entertainment with Showzam, the annual festival of magic and variety, between 18 to 27 February.

Ms France said: "Showzam really does draw in visitors - last year it [filled] an extra 50,000 bed spaces.

"And the beauty of it is that there's something for everyone. It is primarily aimed at children but there are shows for adults too."

Nickelodeon Land, which features rides based on children's TV characters, opens at the Pleasure Beach in April.

The new £100m tramway system will be unveiled in June and the completion of the seafront opposite the Tower follows in August.

Merlin's transformation of Blackpool Tower is scheduled for September.

The council said Blackpool Football Club's promotion to the Premiership has also helped draw people to the resort.

'On TV every week'

Ms France explained: "While we don't get that many visitors directly from matches, it has really boosted Blackpool's profile.

"The team are very good ambassadors for the town and their success means Blackpool is on national TV every week."

But it is not all good news for the town's tourism.

As part of the authority's £27m budget cuts, the Illuminations display is to be shortened and they are reviewing ways of reducing costs in the world-famous light show.

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