DELIGHTED businesses in Bridport have been enjoying a boost in trade thanks to a sunny bank holiday weekend and half-term holiday, which has seen thousands flock to the coast.

Residents and visitors rushed to the shore and into town to make the most of the hottest days of the year so far and local businesses reaped the rewards.

A spokesman for the Hive Beach Café said: "The bank holiday was an amazing weekend for us. It was the busiest weekend we've had so far this year. The sun came out at the perfect time and everyone came out to enjoy it.

"On Bank Holiday Sunday alone we did 1,500 covers.

"All the team pulled together and worked really well - everyone who had travelled down for their holidays and local residents all seemed really happy and we had no complaints."

A spokesperson for the Bull Hotel said: "We have been very busy which is great - a lot of people came down for the bank holiday weekend. We were able to follow our social distancing measures and everybody behaved very responsibly.

"It is great to see Bridport with a bit of life back in it, the weather came back out and it was a fantastic weekend."

With so many people hitting the hotspots, though, some venues reported that they had difficulties enforcing social distancing rules.

Kirsty Smith, manager of the Windy Corner Cafe at West Bay, said: "We were ridiculously busy - so many people flocked down to the coast and the sun was out so everybody was out and about.

"It was easily our busiest day of the year so far.

"We did have a few issues with people refusing to the Covid rules and being rude to our staff. The majority of local people have been very co-operative since we reopened but it happened a lot over the weekend, which isn't fair on the staff. I suppose everyone was hot and flustered."

Marie Oldham, owner of Malabar Trading on South Street, said: "It was such a lovely weekend. It was so nice to have people around and to see Bridport buzzing once again.

"It was great to have people around and having the town open again with a great energy, Bridport is at its best when the suns out.

"It was noticeably different from recent weeks, you could feel the difference with the bank holiday and the families coming down from elsewhere for the half term."

She added: "I think in the shops we've been very lucky with people following all the rules and guidance. I'm not sure if it's the same elsewhere but we haven't had any issues."

Councillor Ian Bark, the Mayor of Bridport, said: "Coming out of lockdown, visitors are even more important to the local economy than ever.

Our hospitality industry is on its knees and the visitor pound may be the difference between survival and closure for many. It is not only the hospitality industry that will be given a much needed financial boost over the summer, our high street shops will hear their tills ringing more often, and local artists and craftspeople will have a new eager audience for their creations.

"We are very fortunate that people want to visit this area and it is important that we continue to make them feel welcome."