VISITORS to Dorset during the coronavirus pandemic praised friendly local residents and the safety measures put in place by businesses - but raised concerns about overcrowding.

A number of organisations across the region commissioned a survey to be undertaken by The South West Research Company. The aim was to gain insight into how people found their experience when visiting the area during the Covid-19 pandemic. The survey also captured what their intentions were for planning holiday breaks and day trips over the coming year. There were 1,856 survey participants for Dorset.

Many comments relating to the welcome visitors received when coming to Dorset mentioned how friendly the locals were. One said: "People who live and work in Dorset are very happy and friendly," another said: "Everyone is always friendly. Staff are lovely in shops and restaurants."

When those visiting since lockdown were asked what aspects worked well, they mentioned social distancing, one way systems, cleanliness, hand sanitiser, friendly staff and pre-booking.

However, when asked what did not work well, they mentioned overcrowding, not enough places or public toilets open, lack of social distancing enforcement and litter.

Dorset received an encouraging score of 98 per cent for the sentiment of ‘made to feel welcome’ and 97 per cent ‘were happy with safety measures in place’.

However, Dorset scored marginally lower in the areas of ‘accommodation availability’, ‘safety provision of public toilets’ and ‘lack of open nightlife and evening entertainment’.

A total of 49 per cent of Dorset residents that responded indicated that they are ‘happy to welcome visitors’ while 18 per cent said they were not.

The main aim of the survey was to see whether those visiting since lockdown would like to return during the quieter autumn and winter months.

While 43 per cent said they intended to visit from July to September 2020, this figure dropped to 22 per cent between October and December 2020 and just 10 per cent between January and March 2021.

A spokesman for the Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce said: "As we approach the beginning of autumn, attracting additional customers during the autumn and winter seasons will be really important to our members to help regain some of the lost revenue from the spring.

"Our team will use the findings of the report to help us with our recovery planning and the promotion of tourism in Dorset."