A VISITOR arriving at Bournemouth beach from another planet at the weekend might have been forgiven for thinking they’d entered a time warp.
As October arrived at the weekend, the town’s golden sands were packed with thousands of sunseekers soaking up the unseasonal heatwave.
It was the same right across the area as tourism bosses and local businesses were given as huge economic boost by the summer coming back from the dead.
As they basked in temperatures pushing 25C, Bournemouth and Poole were hotter than Athens, Barcelona and Istanbul.
For visitors to Bournemouth, the weather was an added bonus to their pre-booked plans.
Carole Howes, in town for the weekend with husband Peter from East Sussex said: “We come down regularly to take part in dancing sessions, but we have never seen Bournemouth like this so late in the year.
“It’s fantastic. You’d think it was slap bang in the middle of summer.”
On the pier, Daniel Kirby from Hertfordshire with his wife Crystal added: “We got lucky. We were coming anyway and this is just great. I have never been here before.”
Tourism bosses were reporting more than 40,000 people flocked to the award-winning sands at Bournemouth on Saturday with more than 45,0000 expected yesterday.
Steve Court from Bournemouth Tourism said catering outlets and other attractions including the mini golf course in Bournemouth’s Lower Gardens remained open longer than usual to cope with the demand.
Staff at ice cream kiosks said the queues had started from the moment they opened and additional deck chairs had to be found after all 7,000 were snapped up over the weekend.
“It’s like a weekend at the height of the summer and has proved a real unexpected boost for tourism in Bournemouth – especially as we weren’t anticipating it.
“Seafront staff are just going with the flow, doing whatever needs to be done and keeping things open longer where required,” Steve added.
And for hoteliers and guesthouses the weekend also proved busy with many venues fully booked.
Andrew Woodland, general manager at Menzies Carlton and chairman of BAHA, Bournemouth Area Hospitality Association said: “It’s been a very good weekend for everybody.
“There are lots of people around in a very good mood appreciating everything we have to offer here.
“We had to turn people away who hadn’t booked and I know we aren’t the only ones.
“Even on Friday night hotels were ringing round trying to find rooms for people as they were full.
“This is very much a boost. Let’s hope it continues.”
As temperatures rocketed towards the perfect blue sky, Poole Quay was packed with holidaymakers enjoying the unseasonable sun.
In fact so many people have chosen Poole for a weekend away that by Saturday morning the “town full” sign was up. There was not a single bed available for that night, according to the tourist office.
“I can’t remember an October weekend being this sunny and this busy,” said Becky Knight, Welcome Centre manager.
Roaring trades were being done by pubs and cafés with outdoor seating, queues were forming at takeaways and ice-cream kiosks as the quay hummed with people.
Among the most popular attractions were boats to Brownsea Island, which departed full of people heading for the idyllic isle.
And there were queues for boat trips to the Wareham Channel and along the coast to Swanage.