A NEW study claims that tourism is worth over 260 million to the West Dorset economy.

The regional study by South West Tourism says that 260,646,000 was spent in West Dorset during 2005 - up 50 million from estimates in 2002.

West Dorset District Council leader Robert Gould welcomed the news.

He said: "This is good news as West Dorset faces increasing competition from destinations at home and abroad.

"It's good to see the spend go up as we are developing our tourism industry on a sustainable basis by promoting West Dorset as a quality destination.

"We'll be continuing to work hard to support tourism as it clearly has a vital input into the local economy."

Figures from the study show West Dorset welcomed over 2.5 million day visits and clocked up more than three million staying visitor nights.

It adds up to 14 per cent of employment - some 6,031 jobs - in the district being supported by tourism spending.

The district council produces literature to market West Dorset as a visitor destination and runs four tourist information centres including those in Bridport and Lyme Regis.

The full tourism study can be found at the bottom of the webpage to be found here.