Page last updated at 12:22 GMT, Monday, 29 June 2009 13:22 UK

Blackpool visitor numbers plummet

Blackpool Tower
A wet summer last year hit Blackpool's tourism industry

The number of UK residents taking a break in Blackpool last year fell by 26%, research by VisitEngland shows.

In 2008, the number of holidaymakers who spent at least one night in the Lancashire seaside resort dropped to 1.38m people from 1.87m in 2007.

Overall, the number of overnight trips in the UK was down by 5% last year, but many big cities bucked the trend.

Liverpool was the biggest winner, with a 28% increase in visitors, while Newcastle upon Tyne saw a 22% rise.

London and York also remained popular destinations, with the number of overnight trips rising 12% and 13% respectively.

London: up 12% (11,315,000 in 2008)
Manchester: up 7% (2,501,000)
Birmingham: up 4% (2,374,000)
Bristol: down 5% (1,469,000)
Leeds up 4% (1,464,000)
Blackpool: down 26% (1,382,000)
York: up 13% (1,344,000)
Scarborough: down 10% (1,341,000)
Newcastle upon Tyne: up 22% (1,336,000)
Liverpool: up 28% (1,088,000)
Source: VisitEngland

But Scarborough, in Yorkshire, another seaside resort, suffered, with a 10% fall in numbers, while Bristol also saw fewer visitors, down 5%.

However, despite its large decline in visitor numbers, Blackpool is still sixth on VisitEngland's list of the top 10 most-visited English towns and cities.

The town, which was previously in fourth place, is hoping to boost holidaymaker numbers with the recent launch of a YouTube film, promoting the city as a sophisticated place.

VisitEngland pointed to last year's disappointing summer weather as being the most likely reason that people stayed away from beaches, but was optimistic for a good season ahead for the UK's seaside cities and towns with high temperatures expected.

Meanwhile, the tourism agency's head of strategy and engagement, Jenny McGee, praised the "diverse range of attractions and cultural events" offered by the UK's big cities.

She added: "Credit should also go to clever marketing for stellar performances by the top-performing cities, especially the likes of Newcastle and Liverpool, the latter having the advantage of being named the 2008 European Capital of Culture."

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