THE Jurassic Coast has exceeded expectations in the benefits that it has brought to the region since becoming a World Heritage Site, according to researchers.

Unesco awarded the status to the stretch along Dorset and Devon’s coastline in 2001.

According to regeneration experts Era Ltd, the coastline has brought huge economic, social and cultural boons over the past eight years.

Businesses and communities have benefited and the creation of the Jurassic Coast identity has raised the area’s profile, the study found. Dorset and East Devon have seen boosts in learning, facilities and services thanks to the moniker, it said.

Don Gobbett, chairman of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Steering Group, said: “Communities and businesses have grasped the opportunities offered by the World Heritage inscription.

“Even in the current tough economic climate, the study findings suggest that the Jurassic Coast has the potential to play an important part in developing the economies of Dorset and East Devon.”

Researchers mixed desk-based techniques with workshops, interviews and questionnaires.

They found that 94 per cent of those asked saw value in the Jurassic Coast identity and three-quarters of tourism-based businesses said it had influenced their marketing.

The study also looked to the future and said that there was a “significant opportunity” to build on the achievements so far to help businesses develop new products and services.

Dorset County Council’s cabinet member for environment, Hilary Cox, added: “This study provides the evidence that World Heritage status for the Jurassic Coast has benefited the region in more ways than we ever dared to dream.

“That not only tourism, but also our economic, environmental and educational sectors have seen improvements is really good news for all involved.”