Faced by the rise in popularity of the motor car and then package holidays to sunnier resorts overseas, Morecambe and other similar resorts, began a decline in fortunes from the early 1970s to the early 1990s. By that time, Morecambe's visitor numbers had dropped to 1.3 million, and many of whom spent little money in the resort. In 1990, markets had changed and we were still selling a resort designed for 1890.
Recent regeneration has been based on quality. The initial work included coastal defence costing ?26 million and culminating in 2007 with people enjoying sandy beaches again. High quality public art, the Tern project, helped to animate the new promenade and public realm. Publicity connected with this public art and with the central area regeneration lead to a doubling in visitor numbers by 2005 and optimism in the resort's future.
The latest phases of the regeneration work include dealing with conversion of former B&Bs and the ?10 million redevelopment of the Art Deco Midland Hotel. Much of the public realm has been regenerated and work continues to attract private sector investment. Regeneration continues but the visitor experience is now better, the length of stay has been extended and the average age of the visitors has dropped. Quality regeneration brings results.
Jim Trotman, Tourism Manager, Lancaster City Council