'THE Olympic effect' has sparked a 26 per cent rise in holiday bookings to Weymouth.

Holiday lettings agency Holiday Cottages suggests that the year-on-year increase is down to Weymouth hosting the sailing events of last summer's Games, coupled with Visit Britain's campaign aimed at encouraging more Brits to take a holiday at home this year.

The increased interest in Weymouth has seen it rocket to the fourth most searched destination in the South West, with a year-on-year increase of online searches of more than 500 per cent.

The South West in particular has witnessed a significant boost in domestic holidays, with passenger numbers through Bristol Airport rising for the third consecutive year, making it the only airport in the UK’s top ten to see growth each year since 2009.

Bookings to Bath have risen by 22 per cent, followed closely by Looe and Polperro in Cornnwall - witnessing a boost in bookings of 18 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.

Woolacombe in North Devon has seen a 13 per cent increase in bookings compared to the same time last year and in South Devon, Torquay has seen a similar increase of 10 per cent.

In the top 10 of most searched destinations, Bath took the top spot with an increase in searches of 330 per cent followed by Padstow and Bude. Newquay was in fifth position.

James Morris, managing director at Holiday Cottages said: “The UK has so many beautiful destinations to offer holidaymakers and this year’s rise in bookings is no doubt a welcome relief to many holiday towns and villages that rely on a thriving tourism trade.

"2013 is set to be a bumper year for domestic holidays, following the success of the Olympic Games and Queen’s Jubilee, so it’s great to see these events will have a lasting impact on British tourism.”