Tourism dis­ser­vice

Campbeltown Courier - - LETTERS -

Sir, It seems to me that both the baby and the bath­wa­ter are to go in Visit-Scot­land’s re­forms.

It is sin­gu­larly ironic that as Camp­bel­town pre­pares to cel­e­brate the re-open­ing of its his­toric cin­ema af­ter a re­fur­bish­ment cost­ing mil­lions of pounds and over­seen by lo­cal peo­ple through­out, the pro­fes­sion­als in charge of another use­ful and well-used as­set for the Wee Toon are pre­par­ing to get rid of it.

Camp­bel­town’s Visit Scot­land of­fice, the seventh busiest in Scot­land, is to close as ap­par­ently ev­ery­one gets their in­for­ma­tion from the in­ter­net, and a foot­fall of more than 26,000 visi­tors and in­come of more than £30,000 does not jus­tify its re­ten­tion.

Another 38 of­fices across Scot­land are to close in this ill-thought out ex­er­cise. This is all made even more dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend com­ing as it does only a cou­ple of weeks af­ter the chief ex­ec­u­tive’s pub­lic state­ment aptly de­scrib­ing the sub­stan­tial re­cent in­crease in visi­tor num­bers as a ‘tourism wind­fall.’

This is cer­tainly a funny way to treat a wind­fall, in this case rep­re­sented by greatly in­creased num­bers of peo­ple seek­ing help and in­for­ma­tion in the places they are vis­it­ing in Scot­land.

What the bean counters have failed to grasp is what the busy and of­ten hard-worked staff of their of­fices ac­tu­ally do.

Firstly, on a daily ba­sis they leave a last­ing im­pres­sion on their visi­tors of a friendly wel­com­ing de­sire to re­ally help, some­thing that doesn’t show up on any bal­ance sheet but nev­er­the­less is just part of the good im­pres­sion they give and which is re­flected in the stream of kind and grate­ful com­ments that peo­ple leave in the visi­tors’ book.

Se­condly, while it is quite

right to say that the in­ter­net is a ma­jor source of in­for­ma­tion th­ese days, I know from my own re­search among pas­sen­gers who come aboard Sea­tours trips that a sur­pris­ingly large num­ber of them have turned up in Camp­bel­town ‘hop­ing to find some­thing to do’.

The fact that they end up on a boat trip, a his­toric guided walk, a horse-ride, a dis­tillery visit or another of the town’s many at­trac­tions is of­ten due to the en­ter­prise of the Visit-Scot­land of­fice staff for which the many or­gan­is­ers of visi­tor-based busi­nesses are grate­ful.

What I can­not grasp is the ra­tio­nale of the de­ci­sion to shut-up shop all over Scot­land which I un­der­stand is

largely based on an­nual re­turns.

I can quite un­der­stand why Visit-Scot­land would wish to dis­pose of the un­prof­itable as­pects of their busi­ness but I sus­pect a first-year eco­nomics stu­dent would have ad­vised them on a dif­fer­ent way to do it.

The tourism busi­ness in Scot­land oc­curs year-round but the main part of it, par­tic­u­larly in the ar­eas of the of­fices picked for ex­tinc­tion, is be­tween early April and late Septem­ber. That is when the ma­jor­ity of those an­nual visi­tor num­bers for each of the of­fices will be recorded.

Clos­ing the of­fices when there are few or no visi­tors is some­thing that both staff

and off-sea­son visi­tors can un­der­stand.

If lease or other terms dic­tate, open them once or twice a week for a half-day.

Cen­tralise the ad­min­is­tra­tion in one place, prune man­age­ment num­bers and use one or two in­spec­tion teams to do stock takes and other su­per­vi­sory vis­its.

The al­ter­na­tive, th­ese whole­sale clo­sures, will in Camp­bel­town, and I sus­pect in many other places, be yet another nail in the cof­fin of ef­forts by lo­cal peo­ple to keep their com­mu­nity alive and eco­nom­i­cally vi­able.

Michael Taylor, Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Mull of Kin­tyre Sea­tours.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.