BUSINESS is starting to pick up following a busy weekend in Weymouth, and traders are thanking four-time gold medal winner Ben Ainslie with helping to attract more visitors.
Around 100,000 visitors flocked to the area to watch the sailing over the weekend, but businesses away from the Esplanade and the Nothe site, where sailing fans watched the events, said the influx failed to benefit them.
A concerted campaign has been launched to get more people to visit Weymouth and Portland after a slow start when park and ride sits lay empty and traders complained it was quieter than an average summer’s day.
Social networks have been used to get the message out that Weymouth and Portland is the place to be to capture the true Olympic spirit.
And Ainslie’s triumph which was beamed around the world can only have helped the cause.
It is hoped that the borough can build on that momentum with medal races every day this week.
Peter Richmond, owner of Cafe Blue on the seafront, said: “It has been our busiest day outside of the carnival.
“It’s been a really good day, constant and very tiring – but it’s been excellent. The customers seem very positive.”
Lian Berry, owner of Weymouth Deli, said: “It has been teeming in some areas, but in many respects it is like a normal summer.
“We have been busier over the weekend compared to last week, but not any busier than we would expect to be a this time of year.”
And there are fears that business will not fully pick up until after the Olympics are over.
Mr Berry added: “Maybe the people who have stayed away because they were told it was going to be busy will come down in the next few weeks.”
Fiona Penny, who owns a flower shop on St Thomas Street, said: “The footfall in town has picked up recently, and I’ve had a lot of last-minute work for the Olympics.
“I think the fact that such a lot of people came to Weymouth to see Ben Ainslie compete has helped, and at least they have dropped the prices on the park and ride, but really it is just too little, too late.”
As many as 70,000 people visited Weymouth and Portland on Sunday alone, to watch as Great Britain’s sailing team scooped three Olympic medals.
Weymouth seafront businesses reported a boom in trade, with one tradesman describing it as ‘the best day for ice cream sales for four years’.
Alan Freemantle, owner of Jue’s, said: “It’s been fantastic. The spirit of the Ben Ainslie race has been great – we nearly ran out of ice cream.”
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council spokesman for tourism and culture Coun Ian Bruce said: “We were thrilled to see such high numbers of visitors coming to the borough this weekend, which is fantastic news for tourism and fantastic news for business.”