Page last updated at 15:27 GMT, Tuesday, 30 March 2010 16:27 UK

Blackpool 'to be most exciting European resort'

Blackpool Tower
Blackpool is already the UK's most popular resort

Blackpool will be "the most exciting resort in Europe" after its upcoming revamp, the regional minister for the North West has said.

Phil Woolas was speaking after the local council completed a deal to buy some of the resort's main attractions, including the Tower, in a £38.9m deal.

England's second Madame Tussauds and a dungeon attraction like the famous one in London will also be opened.

Merlin Entertainments has been appointed to manage the attractions.

Blackpool Council on Tuesday announced its completion of the purchase of the Tower, Winter Gardens, the Golden Mile Centre and Louis Tussauds buildings.

There really is an economic revolution in Blackpool
Phil Woolas, regional minister

It was made possible following bids for European and government funding, as well as £10m from the authority's own budget.

"It is going to create the most exciting resort, in my view, in Europe," said Mr Woolas.

"There really is an economic revolution in Blackpool.

"This is the most popular tourist destination in the UK anyway but we are going to double the number of visitors."

Merlin Entertainments - which runs the London Eye, Alton Towers and Legoland - already operates a Sea Life centre in the town.

'Premier league'

Blackpool Tower, which opened in May 1894, will be restored with £10m of the funding.

The current observation platform will be replaced with a 4D cinema show as part of its revamp.

A new conference centre will be built near the Winter Gardens, which hosted the Royal Variety Performance last year.

The authority hopes the investment plans will bring in an extra 800,000 visitors a year.

More than 1,000 jobs will be created by the venture, which it is hoped will be completed by summer 2011, the council said.

Merlin Entertainments' chief executive Nick Varney said: "From 2011 no other UK centre other than London will be able to offer visitors such a unique and broad selection of international attraction brands.

"In our view this will help take what is already one of the best loved and iconic seaside destinations in Europe into the premier league."

The investment comes from the Northwest European Regional Development Fund, the Northwest Regional Development Agency, Blackpool Council and the Homes and Communities Agency.

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