A £3.5MILLION tourist attraction offering spectacular views of Weymouth, Portland and the Jurassic Coast will open its doors to the public tomorrow.

The Weymouth Sea Life Tower, completed a week ahead of schedule, allowed the region’s media a sneak preview yesterday morning to build excitement for the launch.

A host of VIP guests, including borough mayor Margaret Leicester, young competition winners who had built their own towers, local councillors and business community representatives who had supported the project, were also treated to an early viewing yesterday evening.

Construction of the 172ft (53-metre) tower and observation pod has taken around eight months, from the start of foundation works last October to the completion of the ground-level reception building at Festival Pier, Weymouth a few days ago.

It has all been funded by private money and is the latest in the 90-strong worldwide attraction network operated by the Poole-based Merlin Entertainments Group, which owns Weymouth Sea Life Park and the Pirate Adventure Golf at Lodmoor Country Park.

General manager Craig Dunkerley said: “The feedback we’ve had so far has been unbelievable, already the ticket sales pre-opening are really popular.

“We’ve got an early booking offer for 20 per cent off online.

“The idea for the tower came about two or three years ago, we looked at other sites across Europe but decided to build it here in Weymouth because it’s a beautiful area, close to our existing attraction Sea Life Park.

“We didn’t build it for the Olympics, obviously when you embark on a £3.5million project it’s here for a lot longer than that, but we decided to press ahead so it could be here in time for the Olympics.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to sell the town during the Olympics and to have a new attraction in the town is only going to be good for the local area.

“This is a landmark for the town and it’s all paid for by private money.”

He added: “You’ve got 360-degree views across a beautiful harbour, Weymouth, right across to Portland, the national sailing academy, Abbotsbury and all the way around the Jurassic Coast.

“It’s £8.10 to go up, obviously if you book online there is a saving and you’re guaranteeing your time slot.”

The clear-fronted passenger gondola can accommodate 69 people at a time and rotates as it rises.

The journey lasts 15 minutes although Mr Dunkerley said they would listen to customer feedback about this.

A partnership with the Jurassic Coast Trust will see 10 per cent of guide book sales proceeds go to the charity, to help with its education and conservation work along the World Heritage Site.

To find out more visit Weymouth-tower.com