THE true impact of visitors to one of Dorset's most popular beauty spots has been detailed as lockdown starts to ease in England tomorrow.

2020 was a year like no other, with residents in the Dorset village of Lulworth experiencing some shocking moments during the busier-than-ever spring and summer season.

Laura Miller, Dorset councillor for West Purbeck, said: "Currently we are still in lockdown and so whilst visitor numbers are below average for this time in a normal year, there are still too many for a national lockdown.

"Later in the season, we expect large numbers of day visitors and have spent the winter preparing for this alongside colleagues in the emergency services and the landowner, the Lulworth Estate."

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Why have Lulworth and Durdle Door rocketed in popularity?

In recent years the areas of Lulworth and Durdle Door have both grown in popularity, according to James Weld from The Lulworth Estate.

There are a number of key contributing factors that have led to a rise in popularity of the location, namely social media and the press. 

Bournemouth Echo:

Visitors at Durdle Door on Sunday, May 31. Picture: BNPS

Mr Weld said: "What has substantially and steadily increased over the years is references to Durdle Door on the internet and social media.

"It was voted a few years ago as one of the few countryside locations regarded as 'instagrammable' by an age group which seems to be a little more averse to walking in the countryside than those of us who are a little older.

"If this helps to increase the incidence of walking in the fresh air, a boom to general well-being, as well as fitness, I would encourage it."

However, one of the main factors for a rise in visitors is the number of articles, public surveys and TV appearances this stretch of the Jurassic Coast is featured in. 

He said: "We are often coming in the top places to visit in the UK in various surveys and public votes including one of Britain’s Greatest National Treasures in 2019 – billed as the Jurassic Coast, but filmed at Durdle Door."

Negative impacts of tourism on Lulworth and Durdle Door: 

Tourism is an important business for the whole of Dorset and the county welcomes thousands of visitors each year.

A steady flow of tourism throughout the calendar is obviously welcomed; it is celebrated and a vital part of our economy.

Bournemouth Echo:

Police at Durdle Door on Sunday, May 31. Picture: BNPS

However the sudden influx of visitors during the easing of lockdown in 2020 led to a range of issues for both the environment and the residents living nearby. 

Cllr Miller said: "The impact of high visitor numbers shows in both the environment and on our roads. Residents felt ‘trapped’ last year, and over the last few years we have had situations where emergency vehicles have been delayed or unable to get through due to the crowds.

"This is a beautiful, wild place, and it is heartbreaking for residents to see it littered and worse.

"Local litter picking groups collected human excrement and used sanitary products frequently from the beaches last year. This cannot continue and we are planning a huge environmental awareness campaign for this year.

Litter Free Coast and sea project officer Stuart Beckingham said: "Visitors come to Dorset to experience world-class beaches and a stunning stretch of World Heritage coastline, so it was deeply saddening to witness the amount of littering and anti-social behaviour occurring throughout the county.

"Litter has a negative impact on the natural environment and affects Dorset’s residents who take great pride their in local area."

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The importance of tourism to Lulworth and Durdle Door: 

When it comes to tourism, the beneficial impact visitors have on our county cannot be denied. 

Bournemouth Echo:

Lulworth Cove - The Lulworth Estate

This year it is hoped the shocking scenes of 2020 will not be repeated and instead will be better managed to reduce the impact on both the residents and the environment. 

Cllr Miller added: "Tourism is vital for many of our small businesses and whilst many depend on it, the impact of over-tourism is worrying.

"Too many visitors can actually have a negative effect on trade and so we need to strike a balance between welcoming visitors and being overwhelmed."

Emergency services, Dorset Council and The Lulworth Estate have all been working together to ensure that this summer is prosperous for the local area.

Mr Weld said: "Tourism is an extremely important part of Dorset’s economy which contributes significantly to jobs, the ability for those brought up in Dorset to continue to live here and the county’s overall prosperity. Any increase in tourists can only improve this and should be welcomed.

"I am hopeful that with a good season behind us this year, we can look again at exploring how we can achieve more."