TRADERS in Minehead are preparing to make a 'cautious' start to the holiday season.

Business leaders are hopeful some hardships will be eased between now and autumn, after months of country-wide lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.

The reopening of Butlin's this weekend will bring the town's first influx of summer visitors, as well as the first major event from the West Somerset Railway with its Living Railway museum days.

The Turntable Café, Buffer Stop Shop and the second-hand Readers’ Halt bookstall will be operating and there will be a chance to get up close to a steam railway engine footplate and the driving cab of a diesel multiple unit.

Minehead BID manager Andrew Hopkins said the open days were an encouraging example of how holiday attractions were attempting to function within the limits of ongoing restrictions.

He said: “Obviously this is going to be a very tough year for the railway because there has been absolutely no ticket income at all this season, so we’re hoping many local people as well as visitors will be showing some support for what it is going on this weekend."

Mr Hopkins said for all holiday-based businesses the 2020 season would be one like no other – for all the wrong reasons.

“No-one has ever faced economic challenges on this scale before," he said. "Or been forced to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to getting their business back up and running.

“But there is a tremendous ‘can-do’ spirit in the Minehead community.

"We saw that during lockdown when so many local businesses managed to find ways to carry on some form of trading to keep their customers happy and we are seeing it again as we prepare for a limited launch of the main season.

“No-one’s pretending any records are going to be broken this summer but the very fact that most of our local attractions will be operating in some way or other is a great tribute to the determination of the business community.

“And I am confident that those visitors who do manage to get here will find Minehead still as charming and welcoming as ever – and make that all-important decision to come back again once things have returned to something like normal.”