Morecambe launches Simple Pleasures campaign in newspapers across the North West as businesses see visitors return for 'staycation' holidays
Morecambe BID has launched a new marketing campaign called "Simple Pleasures" - aiming to attract people who enjoy fresh sea air, stunning views and outdoor activities.
The campaign aims to promote the simple pleasures of switching off the phone and reconnecting with family and friends - walking and cycling, playing in the sea and on the beach - and then hopefully going on to spend money in the town.
Tom Powney, chair of Morecambe BID and owner of Briggs Shoes in Marine Road Central, said things seemed to be on the up, and more people were choosing Morecambe for 'staycation' holidays.
Morecambe BID recenty trademarked the slogan "Eden of the North", to describe Morecambe, and has used it in the Simple Pleasures campaign.
The four week marketing drive in August - which has seen 1950's inspired artwork and adverts placed in newspapers across the northwest of England - rightly angles Morecambe as a place to enjoy breathtaking scenery, sandy beaches, five miles of uninterrupted promenade, great places to eat and drink, and a relaxed environment.
The adverts have been placed in newspapers in Wakefield, Halifax, Harrogate, Burnley, Bingley, Clitheroe and Nelson among others.
Initially, it appears to be working, although businesses do concede that the weather has a major impact on visitor numbers.
Despite a typical summer mixture of blazing sunshine, storms, and dull rainy days, Tom said footfall at Briggs is up 22 per cent on the same period in August last year, and other businesses have reported increased trade as well.
"Footfall is high and 'staycations' are definitely having a positive impact, not only on retail/hospitality but also on accommodation," he said.
People of all ages can be seen pulling suitcases to hotels and B&Bs along the prom as Tony Vettese leans across a Mr Strong Mr Men book and looks out over the bay.
The owner of The Old Pier Bookshop in Marine Road Central said it was great to see people browsing, buying and chatting again.
"Lockdown was very trying, but from June 15 until now the shop has done well," he said.
"We're just as busy as before and people are definitely starting to come back into Morecambe again.
"People have been behaving themselves mostly on the mask front, and the situation has made me finally get a card machine, although we still accept cash.
"At the moment we seem to be going from strength to strength, and hopefully the cellar, where there are another 40,000 books, should be open to the public next year.
"It's great to be open again, and also nice to be speaking to people again."
Jane Wignall, from Beach Bird, which opened in Marine Road Central last year, said she was "delighted" about how things are going in the shop, despite not being able to open the cafe section due to its long narrow rooms and social distancing problems.
She said: "Morecambe is a beautiful place to be and people have been flocking here in their droves and loving what we offer.
"We have a diverse range of local artists and artisans who sell their work in the shop so will be able to help them financially.
"We also sell ethically sourced clothing, cards, jewellery, art and curios so we have something for everyone and we hope to still be here for many years to come."
She said she was aiming to re-open the cafe later this year.
Jason Slater, from the Bay Business Hub, said the potential for Morecambe is "quite something".
Despite the UK officially going into recession, which Jason believes will be a "V shaped" one - where the economy will quickly bounce back to normal - he said that he is hugely optimistic about Morecambe's future.
"I'm sat here with a grin on my face most days," he said.
"I'm seeing people behaving well, appreciating the town and the beautiful bay, and even on a bad weather day you can still see the beauty.
"There was a sea change about three years ago, when people started to recognise how beautiful it really is.
"Now the question is - where can I go and get something really nice to eat?
"When I speak to friends in the city, the migration to the coast feels like it's heading back to Morecambe's heyday, where people from the city look to the coast for health benefits.
"Morecambe is a middle class town waiting to happen and the Eden Project plans are giving people the opportunity to discard the old image.
"People are rightly now asking, what has Eden seen here?"
Other business owners have been more cautious in their response.
Some say that business and trade in Morecambe is solely down to the weather, and that on a rainy day, the promenade can be completely empty, prompting them to close early, or not open at all.
But on Friday, August 14, Morecambe Prom was heaving with families, couples, singles and groups of friends.
An older couple from outside the area cycled leisurely by, commenting: "I can't believe how long this promenade is. It's beautiful."
Tom Powney agrees on the weather situation, and, naturally, the conversation turns to the Eden Project, and the potential it would bring.
Is Eden going to happen, I ask?
"Yes", Tom said emphatically.
"Eden Project International has signed a 25 year memorandum of understanding with Lancaster and Morecambe College and Lancaster University."The Morecambe Eden Project team is the only team that wasn't furloughed.
"Lancaster City Council's planning department is working flat out on it, and Morecambe MP David Morris has been lobbying hard.
"Lancaster MP Cat Smith also made a very positive contribution in a House of Commons debate.
"If ever there was a time for major northern infrastructure projects for political point scoring - it is now.
"Imagine if Boris was to come up to Morecambe and say - your MP has been lobbying so hard that we're going to invest the money.
"And of course, Sir Tim Smit, founder of The Eden Project is on board."