Blackpool News UK

Blackpool should be UK “attack” brand says Merlin Entertainments’ Nick Varney


By The Drum Team | Editorial

March 9, 2011 | 3 min read

Merlin Entertainments’ global chief executive Nick Varney has said that Blackpool should be one of the “attack destination brands for the UK” in a bid to bring in more overseas visitors and encourage domestic tourism.

Speaking to Newsco Insider in the countdown to his company opening a Madame Tussauds in the town in April, Varney said he saw massive potential for the resort and that planned new attractions would help re-establish the town’s position as a family-friendly holiday resort, rather than a destination for stag and hen parties.

Merlin Entertainments has operated Blackpool Sea Life centre since 1990 and signed a deal last year to manage Blackpool Tower, the Winter Gardens and The Golden Mile Centre.

Work on the tower, which is to include the tower top observation platform reopening as the Blackpool Tower Eye with a new extended glass floor area and a 4D cinema, is progressing ahead of schedule and Varney is confident of an early launch of the newly public-owned attractions, saying: "Originally we were working to a timetable of spring 2012, but things have been progressing so we thought we’d bring the launch of these premier attractions forward to coincide with the start of Blackpool’s illuminations."

September should also see the Blackpool Tower Dungeon open, with exhibits including details of the Pendle Witch trials, and the Tower Ballroom restored.

"The resort has been in decline, which I think accelerated in the 1990s, but this is another massive boost for everyone. It will help shake some of the negative images associated with the town”, said Varney

"With the right marketing we believe we will succeed here and Blackpool will have its renaissance as a premier league family resort. As a country, we need to get more Brits staying in the UK for their holidays and we need to attract more people from overseas. At the moment, five people go out for every two that come in.

"The government has outlined plans to correct that – and I’m very pleased they have – but we need to develop brands like Blackpool that can stand up and be internationally competitive. It can really be one of the attack destination brands for the UK. If we can attract people here then from the Blackpool website we can guide them to other areas of the North West."

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