PLANS to give Weymouth town centre a boost in visitor numbers were laid out at a meeting of the Weymouth Business Improvement District (BID).

The meeting was held to give levy payers and members of the public the chance to hear about plans for 2014 and ask questions on how money is being spent.

The BID, which was voted in by traders last May, will see £1.5 million invested in the town centre over five years.

Around 20 people attended the first of two meetings held this afternoon at the Ocean Room in Weymouth Pavilion.

Two retail events and a leisure event will be put on by the BID this year, its manager Nigel Reed said.

A new Maritime Festival will be introduced in September which is hoped will eventually be as successful as the Dorset Seafood Festival.

Mr Reed said: “One thing Weymouth can do is put events and festivals on.

“It's what we are known for.”

The BID, which was elected in May 2013 and has been operating since September 2013, will also support ten extra smaller events, Mr Reed said.

It is looking to assist with Veterans' Day in June and the Challenge Weymouth triathlon event in September, which will draw in 1,500 competitors and their supporters.

It will once again put on a Halloween event and aims to enhance the Victorian Shownight by turning it into a three-day event.

New joint chairman Alistair Clarke, of Dean & Reddyhoff Marinas on Portland, told the meeting the BID has 'a small amount of power' to lobby Weymouth and Portland Borough Council for a drop in car parking charges.

A major focus this year will be on marketing the resort - £100,000 will be spent promoting Weymouth to potential visitors.

Mr Clarke said: “It's right that we have put a large portion of the money into marketing.”

Andy Cooke, of Be Social Media and Get Away Digital, urged the BID to spend money on ensuring visitors have the 'best possible experience' when they come to Weymouth.

Mr Reed said the BID also plans to offer 'new business support' to encourage firms to come to Weymouth, will reintroduce the ambassadors from the Olympics as 'Weyfarers' and aims to help levy payers save money on gas, electricity and merchant services.

Trevor Hedger, of the borough council, said the 80 businesses with outstanding fees, together totalling £40,000, would be taken to court. He added that 90 per cent of levy payers had paid.