Visit Dorset, a tourism partnership of Dorset local authorities with support from more than 600 local tourism businesses, launched its re-developed website on Wednesday February 1 with an exclusive event at Athelhampton House near Dorchester.

Local tourism businesses were invited to Athelhampton House to celebrate the re-launch of A brief presentation was given to guests showcasing the re-developed and fully responsive website, its aim to support local businesses, provide a platform to showcase Dorset’s varied tourism offer and provide visitors with all the necessary tools to plan and book a visit to Dorset.

The invite-only event brought together a series of dynamic industry leading speakers for ‘on the sofa’ panel debates about the impact digital innovation and marketing can have on a tourism business in Dorset. The debates were led by Nigel Barker, international trade digital marketing adviser for Department of International Trade in the South West.

The first sofa debate brought Anthony Woodhouse, current steward of Hall & Woodhouse, Matt Pinner, Dorset landscape photographer and Matt Desmier, an innovation consultant and founder of Silicon Beach, to the stage to discuss the future of marketing in tourism.

After opening questions to the floor, Nigel called the second set of speakers for the next sofa debate, bringing Lisa Worthington, head of marketing at Dorset Tea, Lyn Martin, owner of Dorset House B&B and Philip Alford, senior lecturer in tourism and hospitality marketing at Bournemouth University, to the stage to discuss traditional vs. digital marketing.

Lyn Martin, owner of Dorset House B&B in Lyme Regis commented: “It was great to see such support from the Dorset tourism community and really fun to be asked to contribute my tips on marketing from the point of view of a small business built from scratch.

“It was comforting to hear that we share similar issues across all business types and sizes – and gives us all great opportunities to partner up going forwards.”

 Nick Thornley, on behalf of the Visit Dorset Tourism Partnership said: “We’re so grateful to all the local Dorset tourism businesses that came to support our event; it was rewarding to see so many influential county representatives. I would particularly like to thank all of the ‘on the sofa’ speakers for dedicating their time and also all of the staff at Athelhampton House for housing our digital showcase.

“Through events like this and our continued work with external specialists, we will continue to invest in the future of the Dorset tourism economy and support the growth of local tourism businesses.”

Athelhampton House provided a cream tea reception, with refreshments served by Dorset Tea and welcome sparkling wine provided by Langham Wine Estate in Dorset.

The Visit Dorset Tourism Partnership is made up of the local authorities of West Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck and East Dorset District Councils, and Weymouth and Portland and Christchurch Borough Councils. For further information regarding Visit Dorset, go to