Summary of activity from Visit Dorset to support the Dorset economy - 2021

Visit Dorset Website Development

  • Global digital agency, Simpleview, appointed to provide destination website and support services for next 3-5 years following rigorous procurement exercise.
  • completely re-designed and relaunched; the first European destination website to be built on Simpleview’s US platform allowing access to a wide range of superior functionality.
  • New site went live 10 Aug and officially launched with a PR and LinkedIn campaign in October; very well received by the industry and partners.
  • As part of the tender specification, we were able to offer partner organisations microsites (mini websites under the main Visit Dorset site umbrella; currently managing and developing sites with Sherborne and Lyme Regis Town Councils to support their town’s economy.
  • SEO development strategy in place providing in depth reports, structured guidance on content development and monthly health checks to ensure the site’s continued growth and success.
  • Annual web visits of over 2.77 million (January - December 2021), an increase of 17% on the previous year.
  • Implemented ‘Crowdriff’ into new site - a software platform which sources Dorset imagery directly from social media, keeping the site authentic and engaging as well as dynamic content which displays information specific to the website visitor’s previous site use.
  • New Digital Asset Management solution implemented; a cloud-based platform which is used internally as an efficient storage solution for our photos, videos etc and externally for efficient distribution to media partners, members and stakeholders.

Business Support 

  • Reduced membership fees by 25% to support businesses during pandemic recovery.
  • Sent frequent e-newsletters summarising COVID-19 legislation and Government Road Map Restrictions and 4 Step Plan.
  • Highlighted funding sources available.
  • Circulated resources including posters and signage.
  • Information about when to use 111 to support Dorset Hospital’s A&E services.
  • Conducted Business Impact Surveys to help inform industry, supporting organisations and government
  • Sustainability for businesses, post-lockdown advice.
  • Promotion of training for tourism businesses including recruitment, returning from furlough and digital skills.
  • Promotion of Dorset’s late availability and special offers.
  • Responsible travel information signposted.
  • Global Tourism Plan and consumer insights information.
  • Provided a ‘Taking England to the World’ business training course in collaboration with VisitEngland and BCP Council to prepare for reopening of international markets.
  • Communicated record breaking performance of
  • Built and developed new visit-dorset website.
  • Offered additional feature advertising.
  • Commissioned Impact of Tourism in Dorset research.
  • Online booking connectivity improvements include linking with TXGB to enable online booking connections with over 200 booking systems and distributors.
  • Visit Dorset sponsored the ‘New Tourism Business’ category for the 2020/21 Dorset Tourism Awards and assisted with promotion of the scheme throughout the year.
  • Dorset Business Twitter account @VisitDorsetBiz (2192 followers) Visit Dorset and Visit Dorset LinkedIn account (170 followers) promotion of training, marketing and business networking opportunities for Dorset tourism businesses.
  • Continued promotion and support for the VisitEngland ‘We’re Good to Go’ scheme.
  • Attended various industry groups, tourism forums, Chamber and BID meetings to gather feedback to help better understand the difficulties facing sectors of the economy linked to tourism and highlight issues to government via the Great South West Tourism Partnership.

Marketing & Promotional Campaigns

  • Produced a quick guide to our campaigns to help businesses recover over the year and to encourage responsible travel.
  • Invited businesses to work with us to support our activity via their own channels using marketing assets provided by us as well as in partnership with VisitEngland for national campaigns.
  • Spring/Summer focus on responsible travel and planning ahead and continuing our Respect Protect Enjoy campaign.
  • Successful Autumn/Winter campaign for short breaks to key target markets; focus on extending the season and encouraging short breaks.
  • Launched an ongoing campaign to promote astrotourism in the county. Working in partnership with Cranborne Chase AONB International Dark Sky Reserve and other stakeholders to promote year-round events, attractions and accommodation. Supporting trade to on how to become and promote themselves as dark friendly businesses.
  • Supported Dorset Council’s visitor management plan ‘Promise to Love Dorset’ from March to September; content was hosted on the Visit Dorset website and a targeted digital marketing was run on Visit Dorset’s social channels.
  • Produced a reduced print run of our Dorset Days Out fold out map leaflet with free promotion to existing Visit Dorset attraction and activity to aid recovery.
  • Jan 2021: Instagram 32.9k followers (+101% on 2020); Facebook 33.7k fans (+38% and 3.3 million reach); Twitter 40.6k followers (+11%)

Social Media Collaborations and Competitions

  • Regular competitions set up with industry partners and promoted through digital channels with high success rates:

  • May – Win a short break at the multi award winning Summer Lodge Country House Hotel (2,985 entrants)

  • Nov – Win a two-night winter break at Greenwood Grange (1,555 entrants)
  • Dec – Win the ultimate Dorset break at The Eastbury Hotel (2,409 entrants)


  • Signposting of resources, funding and case studies and on the Visit Dorset Industry site to help businesses become more sustainable.
  • Was mindful of sustainability and reducing energy usage when developing the Visit Dorset site.
  • Worked with the Energy Saving Trust and BCP Council to provide two webinars in April to help businesses move over their business and fleet vehicles to electric as well as advice and information about installing electric vehicle chargepoints.
  • Additional promotion of electric vehicle chargepoints to visitors through a dedicated webpage aimed at visitors travelling to Dorset using an electric vehicle.
  • Promotion of car hire companies where visitors can hire an electric vehicle for their holiday to Dorset.
  • Working with the Purbeck Heaths Grazing Unit project on their Sustainable Tourism Plan for Dorset’s newest and now largest National Nature Reserve.
  • Visit Dorset Days Out Map is printed on FSC approved paper and designed by Dorset based business.
  • Green tourism section on the Visit Dorset site including travel, accommodation, local produce, electric vehicles etc, aimed at visitors to Dorset – most recent eco blog was 10 Ways to be an eco-friendly traveller to Dorset.
  • Replaced our Visit Dorset member window stickers with paper certificate.
  • Promotion of ‘out of season’ campaigns to encourage visitors to take holidays/short breaks out of the main holiday season to spread visitor numbers and tackle the issue of seasonality.

Great South West Tourism Partnership (GSWTP)

  • Fortnightly meetings throughout 2021 with tourism leads across the south west and representatives from the Department of Media Culture and Sport (DCMS) and VisitEngland.  The partnership is key to co-ordinating regional marketing campaigns, collaborative impact surveys and joint lobbying to Government for industry support.  
  • Partners worked together on the production of a comprehensive plan: Towards 2030 to set out future activity for the group and use to attract funding bids from government.
  • GSWTP awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award at the South West Tourism Awards.

Dorset Tourism Association 

  • Regular board meetings with sector representatives highlighting the impact of the pandemic on all sectors of Dorset’s tourism industry; feedback used to support businesses, lobby and feedback to the GSWTP.

Other key partnerships

  • Dorset Volunteer Ambassador programme offered tourism expertise to the Volunteer Centre Dorset team to help them implement a seasonal programme of Welcome Ambassadors, located at visitor hotspot towns across Dorset. To help with the influx of additional visitors.
  • Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch (BCP); working together on Dorset wide opportunities.
  • Town partnerships: working with town councils and BIDs in Swanage, Wimborne, Dorchester, Weymouth, Lyme Regis and Sherborne to aid recovery and build mutually beneficial partnership working.

​​Research and consultation

  • Supported the funding of the South West business impact surveys to measure the impact of the pandemic on the whole region, identify business priorities and use to inform and lobby government and assist with DCMS consultations.
  • Funded the Dorset volume and value tourism research via The South West Research Company.

Destination Management Organisations review 2021

  • Submitted a Dorset Council/Visit Dorset response for an independent review of the structure of DMOs in England; worked with the DTA and BCP on a co-ordinated response.