2: Blackpool — a weak economy with a strong amenity offer
Blackpool’s position in Figure 8 shows it has a relatively strong specialist amenity offer for its mid-ranking ability to attract high-skilled exporting jobs. This is especially significant given the city performs relatively worse on other measures of economic performance — it is in the bottom half of cities for resident and worker wages and ranks 46th out of 62 cities for the share of residents with a degree.
The city’s status as a tourist destination provides an additional source of consumers to sustain amenities.
Blackpool’s coastal location has always made it an attractive place to visit. Its status grew with the advent of the railways, making it accessible to a greater number of people, and it thrived in the inter-war period as a holiday spot. Although its popularity has fallen from this peak, it remains a significant destination, estimated to attract 18 million trips by tourists each year.28
This is visible in its abundant accommodation sector. The city has 57 places to stay (including hotels, hostels and bed and breakfasts) for every 10,000 residents which is significantly higher than any other city. York ranks second on this measure, offering 11 per 10,000 people.
This additional population of visitors likely contributes to the ability of the city to sustain a larger number of specialist amenities than its residents and workers might do alone.
These visitors contribute to the city sustaining many budget and day-to-day, rather than premium, amenities.
The city is also unusual because it does not have an especially strong offer of premium amenities, which is often the case for other cities with many specialist amenities. Instead, it has a very high availability of budget and day-to-day amenities (see Figures 6 and 7). The affordable nature of the city’s visitor economy then does not make up for the lower spending power of residents and workers who cannot sustain a higher number of premium amenities.