According to a recently-published “insight” report, rising UK consumer confidence looks set to prompt something of a spending spree this year, with one-third of respondents to a Barclaycard poll saying they are planning at least one major purchase this year.

In 18 per cent of cases, the money will go on a new home; more than a quarter are eyeing a new car; and 37 per cent will be splashing out on new furniture. However, Barclaycard reveals that a massive 52 per cent are planning “a big family holiday or overseas trip”.

Of course, there are those for whom the two are synonymous, but that little word “or” is all-important, suggesting that “a big family holiday” is not necessarily the same thing as an overseas trip, an important – and, as it happens, timely – differentiation that should be music to Dorset ears.

The overwhelming majority of Brits who holiday abroad head for either France or Spain. The euro, which last summer hovered just above the 70p mark, was last month trading at 75p.

It’s not a huge price-rise, but it is probably enough to cause some people to think twice.

Barclaycard’s suggestion that there is a distinction between “a big family holiday” and a foreign trip also comes in time for the UK domestic holiday bookings peak, in February and March.   Singles, couples and smaller families may book later, but larger groups get in early to ensure the accommodation is available.

Consumers’ confidence is increasing (or maybe they’re just fed up with all this talk of austerity) and they’re looking to splash out on travel – just when Europe is becoming more expensive and “home-grown holidays” are hitting the headlines.

It’s a sellers’ market – what’s not to like?

The challenge for Dorset, yet again, is to present a united front. Our county has a hugely diverse range of attractions, from Monkey World to the Tank Museum, from Bournemouth to Blandford Forum, from Durdle Dor to Dorchester – and they all work independently of each other.

The result is that Dorset doesn’t have the kind of cohesive identity it so richly deserves. Holidaymakers brag about their time in Cornwall, the Cotswolds, or the Cairngorms, not about individual towns or attractions, and Dorset offers far greater variety than all of the above.

Overseas, we talk of Tuscany, Provence, or Andalucia, precisely because these places are known for the diversity of their holiday experiences. Dorset could, and should, be in the same league.

If Barclaycard is to be believed, the market is there, perhaps with a stronger appetite now than it has had for some years. If even a handful Dorset’s tourism sector businesses could overcome their often-petty parochial differences, and pool their resources, the rewards are there to be reaped.

Once others recognise the potential, they will be queuing up to pledge allegiance to the sales and marketing union, and the county’s economy will be all the better for it.

Now is the time to realise the Dorset dream.

Editor’s note: For further information, please contact Simon Scarborough on 07801 571357 or at simon@simonscarboroughassociates.co.uk.