DORSET’S tourism industry has been given a boost as the county basks in sunshine during a mini heatwave.

Residents and visitors are being urged to make the most of the high temperatures, nudging towards 20 degrees today, as unsettled weather is forecast for early next week.

Weymouth Beach has been filling up and hoteliers and tourism operators hope more visitors will be attracted to the coast towards the bank holiday weekend.

Nicola Maxey, a spokeswoman for the Met Office, said: “We have got an area of high pressure over the UK at the moment which is bringing this fine, dry weather.”

Describing today’s forecast for the county, Ms Maxey said: “We have got plenty of sunshine around along the coast. It’s a little bit patchier inland.”

There were fears Dorset’s tourism industry would take a battering after the wild weather earlier this year. Current forecasts however are a cause for optimism, according to businesses.

Scott Condliffe, owner of Freshwater Holiday Park and chairman of Bridport and District Tourism Association, said: “Dorset has a great deal to offer. We have got the beautiful coastal country walks and traditional seaside holidays.”

Tom Steadman, joint owner of Tom and Erin’s Gift Shop in Weymouth, said he hoped the good weather would kick-start the season, just in time for the next bank holiday weekend.

He said: “We had such a bad winter that the sun obviously brings people out. It makes everyone happy. The winter was so bad in terms of the weather. It was a very difficult couple of months.”

Heritage of Dorchester, based at The Grove, will officially open today.

Despite operating since January, staff decided to hold back plans for a ‘fun day’ to make sure of a positive turnout.

As well as vintage cars, there will be a rally championship simulator and a giant Scalextric set.

n As the weather hots up, drowning prevention charity the Royal Life Saving Society has issues a warning.

RLSS UK’s Director of Lifesaving Adrian Lole, said: “We advise people to swim at open water sites where there are lifeguards to help keep swimmers safe.”

For safety tips visit the website