Planned Jurassica dinosaur museum could bring in £20m
A charity behind a planned underground dinosaur museum on the Jurassic Coast believes the attraction would bring £20m into the local economy every year.
The £80m attraction, called Jurassica, would be built in a 40m (132ft) deep limestone quarry in Portland, Dorset.
Science journalist Mike Hanlon, behind the idea, said: "Jurassica has the potential to create something of global significance."
If it goes ahead, an estimated 500,000-600,000 annual visitors are expected.
It could be completed by 2020, creating more than 150 full-time jobs.
Featuring a lid-like roof, Jurassica would span about 100m, about a third the size of the Millennium Dome.
Comparable with the Eden Project, it would house robot swimming plesiosaurs, fossils and interactive displays.
Mr Hanlon said: "Jurassica will put Dorset on the global map; a real focus that will drive tourism upwards and pour more than £20m into the county's businesses every year."
Dorset Chamber of Commerce said the travel infrastructure to the attraction would be fundamental to its success. The charity is currently carrying out a £30,000 traffic impact study.
Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce said: "There's no doubt its going to be a tremendous boost for Weymouth and Portland.
"This is a really bold innovative project that could be fantastic for the whole of the county."
Bournemouth University is conducting an economic study to determine the attraction's connections with other sectors of the economy and its likely impact.
Prof John Fletcher, pro-vice chancellor for research and innovation at the university, said the attraction would make a "significant contribution" to the local economy.
He added it would "broaden the visitor season through its international and educational pull".
Sir David Attenborough is patron of the project and the Eden Project's Sir Tim Smit is its trustee.
The project was awarded £300,000 in July from the Local Enterprise Partnership for a feasibility study and a lottery funding application.
In November, the charity put in a first round funding bid for a £16m Heritage Lottery Fund Award. The outcome of the bid is expected in April.
The 153 km (95 mile) Jurassic Coast, which begins in East Devon and stretches to Old Harry Rocks near Swanage in Dorset, attracts about 12-15 million visitors a year.
The Jurassic Coast is considered the only single site in the world that displays evidence of millions of years of the earth's history, exposed in layers of rock in its cliffs.
It contains three periods: Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous.
Visitor numbers to top paid-for England attractions in 2013
- Stonehenge, Wiltshire - 1,241,296
- Canterbury Cathedral, Kent - 1,001,266
- Roman Baths, Bath - 996,143
- RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey - 964,078
- Eden Project, Cornwall - 858,897
- Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Hampshire - 674,434
Source: Visit England
This article was amended on 29 September 2015 after a clerical error by the Jurassic team led to incorrect projected visitor numbers being stated in a report by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.