BOURNEMOUTH was hotter than Ibiza yesterday, as temperatures hit 25C.

The Spanish holiday resort paled in comparison with Bournemouth’s beaches, reaching just 22C.

And the heat brought hope to Bournemouth’s tourism trade after weeks of damp weather and washed-out bank holidays.

Throngs of people headed for the sands, while office and shop workers made the most of lunch breaks in the gardens.

Andy Woodland, chairman of the Bournemouth Accommodation and Hotel Association, said he was speaking to the Marriott and Cumberland Hotels and was pleased to hear already strong bookings for this weekend have now increased.

“We would have liked to have seen the whole of May like this,” he said.

“The weather is really bringing people out.

Debbie Payne owner of the Rosscourt guest house in Boscome, said they had been gaining crucial visitors this week.

She said: “We should really be full. If we fill up the hotel beds it’s good for the restaurants and shops as well.”

Nigel Hedges, president of the town’s Chamber of Trade, said: “What we need of course is weather like this for the next four months, get hotel occupancy up to 100 per cent and maybe that will drag us all back up by the bootstraps.”

Winter accommodation bookings average at 42 per cent, with 82 per cent occupancy in the height of summer, he said.

“Having been an engraver for 30 years, I suddenly wish I was selling suntan cream,” he added. “Whereas for the last few months I’ve wished I’d been selling umbrellas.”

By midday yesterday about 400 people had been on Bournemouth Pier, which had more than 1,000 visitors the day before.

Bournemouth Tourism estimates between 60,000-70,000 people will be on the beach this weekend. Nearly 30,000 visited on Wednesday.

Spokesman Jon Weaver said: “The tourism industry is preparing for an influx of bookings.”

Barmaid Kerri Cavendish, 22, and Beales worker Tash Rodgers, 19, got the bus from Blandford to soak up the sun.

Kerri said: “The weather’s so nice, much better than we have had. Britain needs this at the moment. We’ve had too much rain.”

Tash added: “This is my day off so we just thought it’d be nice to come to town for some sunbathing. We might even go in the sea.”

Wareham dad John Hooley, 45, soaked up the rays with a walk by the prom.

“The sun is well overdue,” he said.