TOURIST hotspots across Hampshire are braced for a surge in visitors over the bank holiday weekend.

Thousands of people prevented from taking holidays abroad are expected to descend on beauty spots across the county, plus coastal communities between Southampton and Bournemouth.

Many people determined to make the most of the last bank holiday before the winter are likely to head for the New Forest.

Forestry England and other organisations want to avoid any repetition of scenes witnessed earlier this year when cars blocked emergency access gates, hindering the emergency services, and visitors dropped huge amounts of litter.

Forestry England is urging people to "think carefully" before setting out.

A spokesperson said: "There may be times when some of our car parks are very busy, so we’re urging people to remember it’s their responsibility to follow the coronavirus guidance on staying safe outside their home.

"We are also reminding people to use official car parks, which are free.

"Do not park on the grass verges. Keep highways and gateways clear and leave plenty of room for other road users.

"Rangers and keepers will be patrolling the New Forest, reminding people that litter can harm the local wildlife and grazing livestock.

"We advise people to carry a spare bag with them so if litter bins are full, or there is not one nearby, they are able to take their rubbish home.

"It’s important that we all respect the New Forest, whilst enjoying it safely."

New Forest District Council issued a similar message.

A spokesperson said: "We are reminding visitors to follow social distancing rules and respect the New Forest by putting litter in a bin or taking it home."