THIS week the Dorset Echo has been taking an in-depth look at tourism in Weymouth.

We’ve asked business owners, hoteliers, developers and councillors what changes they would like to see to the resort.

But we wanted to hear from you, the people who live, work and breathe the town.

As plans are set in motion and tourists flock to the beach, what do readers and residents think Weymouth needs to reinvent itself as a jewel of the south coast.

MARTIN Lee, of Love Lane, said too much effort was spent on tourism and with its beautiful beach and interesting port, tourists would visit Weymouth ‘come what may’.

“Yes, you could look at ‘shoulder month’ tourism but the concentration should be in generating more businesses to the town.

“This is what keeps the restaurants, pubs and hotels busy year-round,” he said.

Christopher Manning agreed saying there was little reason to visit Weymouth in the winter and what was needed was a good tourist information centre.

Weymouth needed a higher profile, as not only a great seaside town, but an upmarket one, said Gail Coverley.

She added high-grade restaurants were needed in the town and the beaches needed showers.

“Upmarket seaside resorts have this facility,” she said.

Jacqueline Hamla, who has been visiting Weymouth for 24 years, said she had seen it wax and wane and utilising local artists and their produce would benefit the town.

“There are many talented people in the area and I have thought for years that the town needed to celebrate these artists and promote their creativity,” she said.

New resident, Judy Layton, said facilities like the cinema and bowling alley needed to be better advertised to avoid losing trade on a rainy day.

She added shops frontages and the Pavilion needed updating and a clear information point should be installed.

Linda Davidson also said a tourist information point was necessary and the Esplanade would be an ideal location as it had frequent buses and was visible from the beach.

But other readers believed fostering Weymouth’s traditional seaside fare would lead to a reinvigorated reputation.

Daniel Geare said: “The idea of reinstating the fairy lights is a great idea and will really make Weymouth look smart but keep its Georgian looks which is what makes it so attractive.”

Another reader said Weymouth’s beach was its biggest asset but having the best beach status is no good without improving the town centre.

Mrs Hoare, who has visiting Weymouth since she was a child, said with its shops, donkey rides and Punch and Judy, the beach was the town’s strongest asset.

She said Weymouth’s biggest problem was the public toilets and its current facilities were ‘disgusting’.

Responding to the council’s pay-for-loo proposal, Mrs Hoare said: “If a charge is imposed people will just use shops and cafes which the owners will not like.

“I can imagine people urinating in the streets at night rather than pay to use public ones.”

But Mrs Layton said the main beach needed a modern toilet block and could be charged at 20p to provide an attendant.

FOR many residents, the town centre needed some much-needed TLC and the run-down aesthetic of empty shops and tired buildings needed to be addressed.

Nicholas Brailsford said: “We have too much ‘old’ retail space. Serious thought must be given to the old town centre and converting empty premises into holiday lets or tourist themed industries.”

Resident for 49 years, Marjorie Wardle said she had watched the beautiful family resort go downhill and more small businesses and choice was needed.  Daniel Geare said the town centre needed investment not just from big brands but small businesses.

“Ones that can offer bright shop fronts and give a happy atmosphere to the town,” he said.

Leonie Dunham, of Southwell, Portland, said Weymouth’s main issue was cleanliness.

“The buildings themselves are beautiful, it is just a case of keeping them maintained. Every shop owner and every person who has a business in the town should take responsibility.”

She added, she thought hanging baskets could offer a simple solution.

Mick Plunkett, who has lived in Weymouth for 80 years, said: “Before any new visitors arrive we must vigorously tackle the ever-increasing problems of anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and homelessness around our town.”

Linda Davidson said anti-social behaviour near the station was “intimidating and not a good advertisement for the town.”

While Vanessa Battour said her family had been planning to move to Weymouth, until recently.

“We have chosen local schools and have whittled down the areas we would like to move to. We love the people, the slower pace of life and the beautiful surroundings.

“Unfortunately, after our recent visit, we have started to think twice about Weymouth.  “While there have always been a number of homeless people on the streets, it seemed worse than ever.

“At times we felt quite intimidated, especially as it grew dark. This was exacerbated by the amount of drunk people wandering the streets and we feel concerned about the safety of our teenage children if we moved here,” she said.

THE age-old issues of parking and traffic were a hot-topic for many although some said it was the lack of space that frustrated them, while others expressed resentments for the cost.

Mrs Hoare said although there was plenty of parking within walking distance of the beach, it was too expensive.

Linda Davidson agreed saying high parking fees did not encourage shoppers or visitors while Chris Manning said businesses and customers would benefit from a free park and ride.

Nicholas Brailsford said: “We need a big multi-storey car park close to the seafront to accommodate day trippers.”

He added a resident’s car park should be introduced to encourage locals to use the town all-year-round.

Mick Plunkett suggested adding a second level to the Swannery car park and moving the railway and bus station out of the town could free up space for development.

Traffic along the seafront was a ‘merry-go-round’, according to a ‘local pensioner’ and better signage for visitors was essential.

“Until something is done about traffic I can't see what can be done,” he said.

Matthew Gould said the main thing that needed to be sorted was seafront traffic and engine fumes affecting people eating and drinking outside.

“I think until it’s solved Weymouth won’t grow,” he said.

AS THE sun was shining, reporter, Sam Beamish headed down to the beach to find out what holidaymakers thought of Weymouth.

Jane Bramley from Guildford said: “We like the area. The beach is clean. Cheaper parking is needed because it is extortionate and traffic is a bit of a nightmare.”

Maria Thomas from Worthing said: “Weymouth is good for children, there is plenty for them to do. If they are happy I am happy. All the traffic doesn’t really bother me.”

Lorna Winfield, 17, from Bedfordshire said: “I think there is plenty to do especially for children who are a bit younger. It could do with more things aimed at teenagers, but we would come back again.”

Barry Walker, 49, from Kent said: “We always come down every year. It has a nice beach and is a good getaway.”

Dave McGuire from Stoke-on-Trent said: “It’s the first time we have been. There is lots to do. We went for a walk around the town and the beach. 
“The children have been Zorbing and on the trampolines. We would come again.”

Terry Constable from Dudley said: “It is superb. 
“The children are well catered for, there are almost too many activities to fit in. 
“We have been here before many times. We will without a doubt come again.”

Mike Hallam from Derby said: “It has been brilliant, I like it because it is chilled. Weymouth beach is spotless. 
“The only setback for me is parking for motorhomes. 
“We expect to pay for parking spaces but so many car parks are saying they won’t take motorhomes, they are turning money away.”

Jennifer Peach from Exeter said: “It is not very disabled friendly, I’d like
to see more disabled access. 
“Some of the shops don’t have disability slopes.”

Thomas Cook from Wednesbury said: “I have been visiting Weymouth for the last 50 years and this is the last time I will be.
“Weymouth used to be a beautiful place, but now it is a joke. The toilets are disgusting and there are not enough facilities.
“The car parking prices are ridiculous and the number of people sleeping in doorways puts people