ALMOST every visitor to Dorset in a survey said they were happy about the experience.

A survey of more than 2,000 earlier in the year heard that 97 per cent were satisfied with their break in Dorset, 90 per cent saying it was either excellent or good value for money.

Almost three quarters said they would return to the same location with a similar percentage saying that reducing their carbon footprint for holiday visits was an important consideration in visiting the county.

The study was undertaken by the National Coastal Tourism Academy on behalf of Visit Dorset in March and April 2023.

With the tourism sector believed to be worth a billion pounds a year to the local economy the survey findings will be discussed by Dorset councillors as they look at the effectiveness of the council’s tourism team which costs around £370,000 a year to run, providing support to the local visitor economy which is calculated to support around 24,000 jobs in the Dorset Council area.

The council puts the net cost of running Visit Dorset at £270,000 claiming £100,000 of income can be attributed directly to its work.

The report says that the main visitor group to the county remains families with young children who mainly come in the summer months and older couples who visit out of season.

Although Dorset’s traditional market has been London, the South East and the Midlands the report authors say there has been a trend for more visitors to come from neighbouring counties as many aim to keep their travel costs as low as possible. Overseas visitors to Dorset include Germany, the Netherlands and the USA.

Hotel stays remain the most popular of accommodation choices, narrowly followed by self-catering cottages or apartments, B&Bs, camping and holiday parks. Almost one in ten keep their costs down by staying with Dorset residents. More than a quarter of those surveyed were residents holidaying in the county.

The research says that, for most, the main motivation in coming to Dorset was for relaxation, quality time with family or friends and to sightseeing. Most of the visitors arrived by car.

Said the report: “In 2023, price was the top factor influencing consumer bookings, closely followed by scenery and landscape. The cost of living crisis meant that 43% of respondents were looking for special offers and discounts to combat the impacts and 67% felt the need to be cautious with spending.”

Problems for the sector include relatively low pay and seasonal working on short-term contracts coupled with an ageing local workforce, making many posts difficult to recruit.

Said the report authors: “Businesses reporting labour and skills shortages are a real issue especially post Brexit and pandemic. Chefs and front of house staff are especially hard to recruit.”