Work on a heritage tourism strategy for Dorchester is to continue – to ensure the county town is ready when lockdown restrictions end.

The town’s heritage committee, made up of councillors and members from local organisations, had started work on a strategy to market the town’s historic attractions prior to the pandemic outbreak.

An online meeting of the group has decided not to defer its work for a proposed period of six months, but to continue: “it was felt that there were strands of the strategy that could be usefully progressed and that the community and businesses would welcome the emergence of a plan to get visitors to the town as soon as was possible,” said a report on the meeting.

Said Cllr Gareth Jones: “It was felt that it was better to progress and to have something waiting in the wings when the corner is turned.. so we are ready to roll.”

“Elected members and other wanted to do something to show that Dorchester is still going and has got what it takes to attract people to our heritage tourism.”

In the short term the committee is being asked to consider some immediate social media marketing to publicise the town’s attractions as people begin to travel more.

A special meeting of the committee is being held on Tuesday evening (26) to hear from heritage tourism consultants who will help with promotional work for the town. The meeting, which is being held online, will start in public but after the minutes of the previous meeting have been approved is expected to go into private session for the presentation about the firm’s proposal and methodology.

Work on a heritage audit is then expected to shortly get underway. It will initially focus on desk-based research until coronavirus lock down conditions are sufficiently lifted for workshops involving local tourism-related businesses and heritage attractions to be held.

Among the heritage attractions which many believe could be better promoted is the Tolpuddle Martyrs court, Maumbury Rings, Maiden Castle and the Roman Town House.