BOURNEMOUTH could have a bumper summer to save struggling hospitality businesses from going to the wall, it is hoped.

The likely reopening of pubs, restaurants and hotels when most people cannot go abroad is giving hope to beleaguered operators.

Earlier this week, the government adviser Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said last year’s reports of crowded breaches were not linked to a spike in Covid-19 cases.

The summer saw BCP Council declare a “major incident” amid crowded beaches and reports of public disorder. Elsewhere in Dorset, Durdle Door was overrun with beachgoers, prompting police to close roads to the beauty spot.

Bournemouth beach: BCP Council declares major incident

Mark Cribb, owner of the Urban Guild venues including Boscombe’s Urban Reef restaurant, said: “If we had that many hundreds of thousands of visitors last season and was no impact on Covid, we’ve got to presume the same this year and we should be confident of dealing with them.

Packed beaches in Bournemouth as heatwave takes hold

“We just need to make sure we distribute people across the seafront so it’s not just around Bournemouth Pier where everybody flocks.

“With no international travel this year and this advice coming out, we should prepare to be busy.

“We’re saying please, please allow us to capitalise on this. We’re pretty sick businesses, we’ve taken on a lot of debt to get through the winter that’s got to be paid off. We don’t know what’s going to happen next winter but every day we can trade this summer is key.”

Covid: 'crowded beaches have not caused an outbreak'

Kris Gumbrell, Bournemouth-based chief executive of the Brewhouse and Kitchen chain of pubs, said: “Boris Johnson has promised there will be an easing of restrictions. I hope they will be ease further to the point where hopefully by the peak of summer we are completely back to normal.

“I believe the town is in in for a great summer. I think the town can absolutely bloom. But we’ve got to be ready for it and the right kind town centre offer.”

Covid: BCP Council 'won't let' town become overwhelmed again

BCP leader Cllr Drew Mellor has pledged not to let Bournemouth become “overwhelmed” by an influx of visitors this year.

“It was the combination of lockdown ending, furlough and the delayed ability to open up our services due to national restrictions, that resulted in our resorts being overwhelmed,” he said.

“We will not let that happen again.”

Professor Woolhouse told the Commons science and technology committee this week: “Over the summer we were treated to all this on the television news and pictures of crowded beaches, and there was an outcry about this.

“There were no outbreaks linked to crowded beaches, there’s never been a Covid-19 outbreak linked to a beach ever anywhere in the world to the best of my knowledge.”