Warnings have been issued as a surge of visitors are expected in Dorset as school holidays begin.

And people have been reassured there are plans in place to avoid a repeat of the chaos experienced at the end of last month when hundreds of thousands of people flocked to Bournemouth beach, ignoring social distancing guidelines.

Police, council and health officials have joined forces to prepare for a wave of visitors as the school holidays begin today.

Some of the main messages include: 

  • Plan your journey to avoid peak traffic times. Some motorists were stuck for hours trying to get to their Dorset destination in June.
  • Park away from the seafront
  • Continue to observe social distancing
  • Take your litter home from beaches and beauty spots
  • Be considerate to residents

Dorset Beaches:

Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya, of Dorset Police, said: "The majority of our communities and visitors have continued to behave in a considerate and responsible manner throughout these difficult last few months and, even though many of the restrictions previously in place have eased, we would ask that to continue as we enter the peak summer holiday period.

Read more: Bournemouth beach: what BCP Council can and can't do

"We have already seen surges in visitor numbers to the county during sunny spells and we are expecting these to continue over the coming weeks. We have been working hard to ensure a thorough policing plan is in place and have been liaising with our partners to ensure we are as prepared as possible.

Dorset Beaches:

"As the summer getaway begins we are also likely to see an increase in traffic on our roads. We are urging people to plan ahead and expect delays. Please drive safely and take regular breaks if you are travelling long distances."

Councillor Vikki Slade, leader of BCP Council, added: “This weekend marks the start of the big summer holidays and we encourage everyone thinking of heading to the beach to take responsibility.

Read more: Bournemouth beach: the latest rules for visitors

"We know the summer can be busy but if everyone takes a little time to plan their journey, perhaps use car parks further away from the hotspot seafront areas, consider the impact on other people using the beach or promenades and ensure they leave only footprints from their visit, then we can all have an enjoyable experience.

“Should visitor numbers start to rise we will have resources in place to respond to any issues arising and will be in close contact with our multi agency partners to ensure the area is managed safely.”

Dorset Beaches:

Councillor Spencer Flower, leader of Dorset Council said: “With schools officially breaking up this week and with more people in the UK expected to take ‘staycations’ rather than holidaying abroad, we are of course, anticipating more visitors to come to Dorset in the weeks ahead.

“We want to reassure residents that we have thorough plans in place to avoid a repeat of scenes at some of our most popular visitor destinations recently. Dorset is a great place to live, work and visit so it’s important we work together to keep it special."

With the schools breaking up, young people are also being reminded of the need to take act responsibly over the holidays.

ACC de Reya said: “I know this has been a tough time for children and young people recently, with disruptions to school and the various restrictions that have been put in place. However, we need you to continue to do your bit by not gathering in large groups and observing social distancing guidance.

“I appreciate young people will want to go out and have fun this summer, and they deserve to, but I want them to avoid taking unnecessary risks, such as swimming in unsupervised stretches of open water, and recognise the dangers of taking substances like alcohol and illegal drugs.”