Rail strikes: Blackpool hoteliers ask RMT union to consider the impact on tourism trade: "The town relies on tourists spending money over Christmas. The impact will be huge."

The head of the hotelier’s association, Stay Blackpool, fears the threat of rail strikes planned for December and January will have a devastating impact on the tourism industry, which is still recovering from the pandemic.

The strikes which are set to happen for 48 straight hours on four occasions in December and January will be a huge blow to businesses that started ordering their festive stock in summer.

Claire Smith, president of Stay Blackpool, said: "Even just the talk of a rail strike will make people think twice about coming, as they won’t want that hassle. The town absolutely relies on visitors coming in spending money over Christmas, as it’s a long bleak winter between January and Easter.”

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Claire, who runs two hotels in the resort, had started preparing for the season in August, ordering hats, crackers and festive food for Tinsel & Turkey events.

Claire Smith from the hoteliers’ association Stay Blackpool

She has kept her prices the same, despite the rising costs of food and heating – but feels the strikes will be devastating for businesses that are already struggling financially.

Claire added: “VisitBlackpool have gone to a lot of effort, they have extended the illuminations and they've put Christmas by the Sea in front of the tower with all the little stalls. It’s not just a few people going to work it will hit, it’s a huge financial impact on everyday small business people. Many people don’t have cars, there may not be coaches running at convenient times, so trains are vital.”

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More than 40,000 RMT members will strike on December 13, 14, 16 and 17 and on January 3,4,6 and 7. There will also be an overtime ban across the railways from December 18 until January 2, meaning the RMT will be taking some form of industrial action for four weeks.

Following the announcement of these fresh strike days, RMT chief executive Mick Lynch said: "This latest round of strikes will show how important our members are to the running of this country and will send a clear message that we want a good deal on job security, pay and conditions for our people.

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"We have been reasonable, but it is impossible to find a negotiated settlement when the dead hand of the government is presiding over these talks.

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"The employers are in disarray and saying different things to different people sometimes at the same time. This whole process has become a farce that only the new Secretary of State can resolve. When I meet him later this week, I will deliver that message.”

He added: "In the meantime, our message to the public is we are sorry to inconvenience you, but we urge you to direct your anger and frustration at the government and railway employers during this latest phase of action.

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Our readers said:

Matt Lite: “The disruption caused by the strikes is nothing compared to the insane and ever rising ticket prices combined with endless cancellations and delays during 'normal’ operation.”

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Angela Blonsky: “Glad I’m not travelling this year paying extortionate fares to face major disruption at Christmas, however I do feel for the staff wanting better conditions.”

Gail Houghton: “That’s my Christmas with family cancelled.”