Weymouth and West Dorset, oh so quiet Olympics?


I took friends and family to Weymouth on Saturday 28 July to see the Battle of the Winds final extravagganza of aerialists, the 2012 torches wade into the sea, the pyrotechnics and generally start enjoying Olympic atmosphere. I mmm’ed and rrrr’ed it would be a bit too crowded, but hey it’s a once in a lifetime, so off we went. 

There was plenty there, but not quite what I expected. An empty Monkey Jump Park & Ride welcomed us mid afternoon. A brand new double decker took all seven of us into town on the shiny new bypass that we are being warned not to use. Many more empty buses were waiting to Ride elusive Parked punters back to their cars.  We strolled along the spacious promenade to the Bayside Festival where our Somerset friends learned about the Jurassic Coast wonders. My kids loved being taught a few tricks by the ExtremeSports team, great guys under the tatooes and dreadlocks.  At 6.30 pm Bayside eating area had all of ten tourists having tea listening to the Acoustic Stage. At 7pm the long expected queue to get into the enclosed “Weymouth and Portland Live Site” was painfully tiny…

Great news as a visitor, plenty of space, unexpected free entry to Bayside; not such great news when talking to the locals who have invested money and worked hard for months. Why the big signs in surroundings counties of how busy it may get? Put them up when it does get busy, not before. These are the days of mobile phones, twitter, facebook, information is fast. Does St Tropez warn tourists in Lyon? NON. They let them all come, get stuck, take their money and let them queue. Tourists do come back, every year and it’s still a nightmare to get to St Trop.

Squibbers lit the Weymouth beach on 28 July 2012
Squibbers lit the Weymouth beach on 28 July 2012

I got cross with dorsetforyou. Stop caring people off I said on twitter.

“@natamagat Just informing people about changes and road closures. We want to encourage people to come down, but plan their journey 1st” they replied.

Well, West Dorset looks awfully quiet. The dreadful recent events due to floods and landslides are still fresh on people’s mind but it does not mean the whole area should be avoided. Local businesses that rely on Summer visitors need help, not scaremongering tactics.

Tell everybody how easy it is to get here (I’m told there’s even a High-Speed train from Weymouth to Bristol but it’s not advertised, go figure), that there’s lots to do in Weymouth, that Bridport has a fantastic Festival of Culture in August, that Beaminster has lots of great shops and brilliant restaurants all year round with perfect presents to take back home despite the Tunnel being closed.

Hello world, this is the year to visit West Dorset, it’s quiet and if you fancy art, culture, food (of course) oh and the small matter of Olympic sailing along our beautiful Jurassic Coast, well there are plenty of events that locals have been organising for weeks. It’s not too late to book a few days in West Dorset…

Photography on this post from Saturday 28 July in Weymouth.

 

Eolus God of the Wind under a moonlit sky in Weymouth
Eolus God of the Wind under a moonlit sky in Weymouth
Doldrum ready to intercept the winds from the Sailing Olympics
Doldrum ready to intercept the winds from the Sailing Olympics
The Battle for the Wind in Weymouth
The Battle for the Wind in Weymouth
Performing on Weymouth and Portland Live Site, 28 July 2012
Performing on Weymouth and Portland Live Site, 28 July 2012
Devon Wind machine was a cracker
Devon Wind machine was a cracker
One more full Wind Bag for Dorset
One more full Wind Bag for Dorset
robot likes the look of Event Security at Weymouth Bayside Festival
robot likes the look of Event Security at Weymouth Bayside Festiva
2012 torches into the sea for Weymouth Battle of the Winds Olympic celebrations
2012 torches into the sea for Weymouth Battle of the Winds Olympic celebrations
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Author: natamagat

Random thoughts from a French incomer in rural England. Interested in the love/hate relationship between the English and the French (unavoidable), community matters (they affect us whatever nationality), tourism (my original career with an MA in Tourism albeit a French one), photography (images speak a thousand words, although only the good ones), and words (mostly English words with a few French ones thrown in) Pardon my Franglais if you will.

2 thoughts on “Weymouth and West Dorset, oh so quiet Olympics?”

  1. Twitter has got nothing to do with this whatsoever. The problem was first highlighted just over a year ago, when visitors who come year in year out did not book for this year. Just about all the B&B’s reported the same scenario. The Summer of 2011 was very bad on the roads. Roadworks everywhere, an intense programme of 14 months due to finish one year before the games began, they went on all Summer as well. Noise outside Hotels and with the games looking like the road would chaos, the returning public that come year in year out, decided enough was enough. Bookings everywhere were down. Some Hoteliers however decided to put up the price of the rooms, and they unfortunately only have themselves to blame, the ones that have kept prices the same, are not quite so badly effected.
    To blame twitter is ridiculous, you are only tweeting to the same people all the time, mostly those already in Weymouth! They were only tweeting sensible information. Not that I am a fan of their site or anything, just think you are wrong about the effect their tweets would have. The Bayside Festival was never marketed well, it was confusing with the bside Festival, which is all free. The pricing policy was terrible, adults were from age 13!
    The acts are pretty average, I don’t want to be rude. There is an act on tonight that has filled stadiums up and down the country, tonight I hear there is about 20 people there. But of course they are being hit also by the lack of holidaymakers in the town. The people that we do have here can only go around so far. Normally in July if it is a nice day, like today the beach is FULL, today it was nearly empty, and I can assure you there is a lot more to this than a couple of tweets.

  2. Thanks very much for your comments Abbie. I agree with most of your points except Twitter… I did not mean that twitter was to blame though, of course not!

    You are quite right that greedy hoteliers only have themselves to blame, putting the prices up is madness. It is a known fact that Olympics hosts have a slump in bookings from their repeat visitors.
    However, Sailing is not the 100 metres or swimming and does not have a very wide appeal, it is not a very ‘viewer friendly’ sport either.
    Therefore the Council is also to blame as they should know all this and should not have put signs on motorways and towns in the South West (and tweets and whatever other sort of communication) saying how busy it would be. It was bound to scare some people off. Park and Ride was originally £12, way too expensive.

    I do not think their information was sensible when they were still talking of restrictions on 29 July.
    @dorsetforyou “Driving #Weymouth & #Portland today? Ensure you plan ahead & understand road/parking restrictions in place – http://ow.ly/czAEb
    Let people fill the town centre car parks and once they’re almost filled, put big signs in Monkey Jumps asking drivers to Park and Drive. It’s the Olympics, they’re unlikely to turn round and never come back. DCC followers will be mainly from Dorset anyway.

    You are totally right that the events were not communicated clearly and the pricing bizarre.
    Maybe the money spent on signs warning people around the South West would have been more productive on a small leaflet to all Dorset households with a highlight of all the events going on in Weymouth (and free Park and Ride for Dorset residents?).

    Clearly, the Council is not entirely to blame… rubbish weather, floods (and Police warning to stay away from Dorset just before the holiday season -rightly but still fresh in people’s mind at the wrong time) and the ongoing recession are not helping either.

    ps. re Twitter, my followers are not all in Weymouth, far from it. Letting West Dorset followers know that Weymouth is not busy may encourage day trippers. If all West Dorset tweeters get a couple of extra visitors from the UK or abroad by letting their followers know that it’s quieter than normal here, then surely that’s worth the effort, we need all the help we can get this year don’t we?

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