Visit Dorset Business Support Hub Tourism research for Dorset & SW England

Market research is important to help shape the work of both Visit Dorset and its partners. Visit Dorset invests in research projects each year that cover a whole range of subjects related to tourism within Dorset and the South West. These reports provide figures on economic impact, visitor profiles, occupancy levels and general issues affecting tourism.

Visit Dorset and BCP Tourism teams commission annual Dorset tourism research to provide insights on the value of tourism in Dorset, these Dorset tourism statistics are segmented into areas and in some cases towns.

Market Segmentation Research

Visit Dorset recently commissioned market segmentation research to understand the different types of current and potential visitors to the county, in order to identify potential growth audiences and support more targeted marketing campaigns.

The research was carried out on Visit Dorset’s behalf by a company called BVA BDRC - an award-winning international consumer insight consultancy, conducting research in over 90 countries.

The segmentation research categorises Dorset's visitors into 5 types:

The full research report, which includes details about how your business or organisation can effectively target the different market segments, can be downloaded. Alternatively you can watch a 45 minute presentation, for which a transcript is available to read.

Visitor intentions and experience

The latest Visit Dorset Consumer Survey was carried out in March and April 2023. The survey report includes both satisfaction results for the destination, as well as future intentions and ideas for new products or additional marketing. You can either read the full survey report or watch a 24 minute presentation.


VisitEngland has commissioned a tracking survey to understand domestic intent to take short breaks and holidays both within the UK and abroad, with particular focus on the current barriers and concerns around travel and how these will evolve over time.

Read the latest VisitEngland Domestic Sentiment Tracker.

Read the latest Tourism South East Visitor Sentiment Tracker.

COVID-19 impact on Dorset tourism businesses

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Visit Dorset is working with BCP Council and the Great South West Tourism Partnership to carry out business impact surveys for tourism businesses in Dorset.

View the results of the surveys:

Tourism in Dorset

Economic Contribution of the Visitor Economy in Dorset (2016) - South West Research Company Ltd

An overview of the importance and economic contribution of the visitor economy in Dorset.

Economic Impact / Value of Tourism

These reports prepared by the South West Research Company examine the volume and value of tourism and the impact of visitor expenditure on the local economy in Dorset including breakdown information for districts. Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch information can also be found within these reports.

A summary is available for additional towns - click on the year in the table to download the document.

Tourism summary for towns Year Year Year Year Year
Blandford     2017    
Bridport & West Bay     2017 2015 2013
Dorchester     2017 2015 2013
Lyme Regis 2022   2017 2015 2013
Portland       2017 2015  
Shaftesbury 2022   2017    
Sherborne      2017 2015 2013
Swanage    2022 2019 2017 2015 2013
Weymouth       2017 2015 2013








Visitor Surveys

Visit England has produced a series of destination reports (including Bournemouth) for the domestic market as part of the Discover England Funded projects. This report provides information about visitor profiles, visitor experience, and perceptions of the destination.

Destination Marketing

For more research and studies, go to the VisitEngland Research and Insights webpages.

Visitor Economy of the South West Coast Path 

Commissioned by the South West Coast Path Association, you can find out more about the economic impact and value of the South West Coast Path.

We need your help!

To help us receive up-to-date feedback on how the tourism industry in the South West is performing, monthly Surveys are carried out by The South West Research Company to provide the regions tourism industry with up to date information on tourism performance.

If you run any of the following types of business in the Dorset tourism sector, we would be grateful if you would regularly participate in these How's Business surveys.

  • Accommodation establishment
  • Visitor or leisure attraction
  • Sports or activities-based business
  • Food and drinks related business
  • Retail business (excluding food and drinks)
  • Tourist Information Centre
  • Self Catering agency
  • Other type of business

Your answers will be treated as strictly confidential and will be combined with those from other businesses in your area to provide overall results. As a thank you for taking part in this survey, upon completion you will re-directed to a page where you will have access to the latest 'How's Business?' report for the previous month. Please contact us if you would like to get involved.

National tourism research

Tourism news

Round up of latest news from Visit Dorset about tourism matters.

What does your Dorset look like? Adventures on our epic coastline? Visiting attractions with family? A walk through the beautiful countryside? Or perhaps a chilled out evening eating and drinking with friends? Discover a sample of your #VisitDorset images below and share your love for Dorset using the hashtag on Instagram.