With the coronavirus, the rebirth of English seaside resorts – World

Glow sticks in hand, children marvel at an awe-inspiring fireworks display above Blackpool Tower. The holiday concludes a summer of hope for this shabby English seaside resort, which is reborn thanks to the pandemic.

The coastal town in the north-west of England enjoyed a comeback this summer with the British, like many others who had fallen into disuse in recent decades, neglected in favor of lower-cost vacation packages on the sunny shores of the Mediterranean or in Breton campsites.

In the midst of the pandemic, many have chosen to stay in their country rather than abroad, to avoid the constraints of travel, from costly screening tests to the possible obligation of quarantine on return, including changes. constant government directives.

On the promenade, many visitors have come to enjoy the show which marks the launch of “Blackpool Illuminations”, a festival that will adorn the city with multicolored lights until January.

Rather than the nightlife of Mallorca, Owen Wells, 23, a welder with flamboyant clothes, chose Blackpool for his bachelor party: “With the covid, it’s a bit tricky. A lot of my friends are not vaccinated. It’s a place where you can go without having to isolate yourself for two weeks afterwards, ”he explains.

Accompanied by her 9-year-old daughter, Michelle Potter, 55, a frequent visitor to Spain, Turkey and Cyprus, did not want the hassle associated with the constraints of traveling abroad. “The United Kingdom is just as good,” she says.

Real fish and chips and fake Eiffel Tower

Between a “fish and chips”, an ice cream or the local confectionery “Blackpool rock”, the attractions are not lacking, like the Victorian tower of 158 meters in height displaying the air of the Eiffel Tower, the three piers and their attractions, the beach or entertainment complexes.

Blackpool is proud of its 158-meter-high Victorian tower. (Paul Ellis / AFP)

Blackpool, which borders the Irish Sea, north of Liverpool, embodies the rise and fall of English seaside resorts. After the arrival of the railways, the city had become the first mass tourist destination in the UK in the 19th and 20th centuries. But the decline began in the 1960s with the democratization of vacations to warmer and sunnier destinations. In 2008, the city offered 40% less beds than in 1987. Previously synonymous with leisure, Blackpool, cut off from tourist income, has been associated with urban degeneration and poverty, with its territory, according to a study by UK government of 2019, eight of the ten most deprived areas in England.

The pandemic has dealt an additional blow to the city’s economy, forcing hotels, bars and restaurants to close for long months during three lockdowns. But paradoxically, the virus has also brought in its wake a renewal of vitality, with the explosion this year of domestic holidays, strongly encouraged by the government.

“It’s amazing that so many families got to experience something different while vacationing in the UK. Blackpool will once again be listed on everyone’s menu, ”enthuses Alex Lonorgan, 37, who owns a restaurant there.

The virus, which has put the brakes on overseas travel, has brought in its wake a resurgence of vitality for English seaside resorts like Blackpool.
The virus, which has put the brakes on overseas travel, has brought in its wake a resurgence of vitality for English seaside resorts like Blackpool. (Paul Ellis / AFP)

A lasting revival?

Lynn Williams, head of Blackpool City Council, believes this renaissance is made to last, even as mass vaccination in Europe, by keeping the virus a little more under control, is making it easier to resume overseas travel.

Recent beautification works are aimed at attracting private investment and retaining British tourists. Blackpool “has changed since people came here as children,” she says. “But what will not change is that we are a welcoming seaside resort.”

“The three piers and the tower, no one else has that. To see the tower lit in all its glory is a charming sight, ”she insists.

Restaurateur Alex Lonorgan echoes: “The positive side of these very difficult 18 months for Blackpool is that people have seen how good it is. As long as it lasts! “.

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