BOURNEMOUTH’S Air Festival has proved such a hit that the town can’t take any more visitors than it drew last year.

Instead, organisers of this year’s event are concentrating on making it better rather than bigger, with more entertainment to keep visitors in the resort for longer.

The event brought 1.3 million people into the town last year, contributing an estimated £30 million to the economy.

Festival director Jon Weaver said it would be impossible for the event to attract more people than in 2010.

“They are here but they’re not necessarily here for the whole day. We just want to keep them here and make sure they get a better experience,” he said.

“That’s what we’re trying to do – the town can’t take any more people.”

He said plans were well under way for this year’s festival, which will run from August 19-22.

“What we’re working on is similar content to last year – particularly the star attractions should be coming back,” he said.

“We’ll be announcing that at a business launch on March 19.

“In terms of other areas, we’re looking at what we can do in the evening and developing evening entertainment.”

He hopes the added entertainment will keep people spending money in the town for longer, and encourage many to stay overnight.

The Night Air evening entertainment will be expanded, including musical entertainment from the Royal Marines Band as well as live music, a balloon glow, fireworks and street entertainers.

This year’s event will cost around £450,000 to stage, with the majority of the cash to come from the commercial sector and around £100,000 from the council’s recession fund. The aim is for it to be entirely commercially funded next year.

The first two years of the festival have barely seen a drop of rain – but Mr Weaver insists the event would carry on if its luck changed.

The experience of other festivals was that people would still come, he said. “People who have experienced similar shows say they will always be a show of some sort. It’s rare that you get a complete washout,” he sasid.

“And even if you do find that, the following year as many people come back. And even in the worst rain conditions, people do come.”