Visit Scot­land’s chief’s view

Campbeltown Courier - - LETTERS - Mal­colm Roug­head, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, VisitS­cot­land, Ed­in­burgh.

Sir,

The changes to in­for­ma­tion pro­vi­sion in Ar­gyll and the Isles are aligned with a na­tional strat­egy to de­liver vis­i­tor in­for­ma­tion through a va­ri­ety of chan­nels.

The two-year strat­egy will see a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the number of chan­nels pro­vid­ing con­tent on places to visit and stay, with a mix of in­dus­try part­ners, Coo Vans and dig­i­tal prod­ucts sit­ting along­side 26 key VisitS­cot­land iCen­tres in high im­pact lo­ca­tions.

As part of this, some dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions have been made across the coun­try.

In Ar­gyll and the Isles, we have worked in part­ner­ship with the lo­cal author­ity and the Ar­gyll and Isles Tourism Co-op­er­a­tive for the last two years in de­cid­ing where we re­tain ser­vices in the re­gion.

De­ci­sions about which iCen­tres to keep open have been based on iCen­tre per­for­mance rather than iCen­tre staff per­for­mance.

The VisitS­cot­land iCen­tre at Camp­bel­town has seen a 58 per cent de­crease in vis­i­tor foot­fall over the last decade.

Ac­com­mo­da­tion book­ing num­bers pro­vide a clear in­di­ca­tion of the de­mand for con­tin­u­ing a manned ser­vice and, with only 49 book­ings made in 2016/17, the iCen­tre has ex­pe­ri­enced a 78 per cent de­cline in this ser­vice since 2006/07. As a re­sult of this, Camp­bel­town iCen­tre will cease op­er­at­ing by March 2019.

We ac­knowl­edge that the iCen­tre cur­rently as­sists in pro­vid­ing a tick­et­ing ser­vice for Mull of Kin­tyre Sea­tours and, within the timescales out­lined last week, we will of­fer the busi­ness a dig­i­tal busi­ness surgery to as­sist them in de­vel­op­ing an on­line ticket book­ing fa­cil­ity.

Gifts and sou­venirs sales are not the core pur­pose of our iCen­tre es­tate and this presents an op­por­tu­nity for lo­cal busi­nesses in the fu­ture.

In Ar­gyll and the Isles we will work with the com­mu­nity dur­ing the com­ing months to un­der­stand the op­por­tu­ni­ties in Camp­bel­town and we will be approaching Live Ar­gyll which op­er­ates leisure and mu­seum ser­vices across the re­gion.

In other parts of the coun­try in­clud­ing the High­lands, An­gus, Aberdeen­shire, the Scot­tish Bor­ders and Fife we have been able to work with leisure trusts to en­sure they have, via their staff and fa­cil­i­ties, the abil­ity to of­fer lo­cal in­for­ma­tion.

Not only does this pro­vide a con­ti­nu­ity of ser­vice, it also pro­vides an­other rea­son for the use and sus­tain­abil­ity of these pub­lic ser­vices. We ex­pect that by work­ing with groups like Live Ar­gyll they will ben­e­fit from ad­di­tional vis­i­tor foot­fall and spend.

Dis­cus­sions will take place with a number of busi­nesses in the area, to en­cour­age them to join our al­ready im­pres­sive net­work of 106 VisitS­cot­land In­for­ma­tion Part­ners (VIPs) in the re­gion over the next 18 months un­til the iCen­tre closes.

Our VIPs are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing lo­cal in­for­ma­tion to visi­tors and al­ready in­clude The Royal Ho­tel and The Ugadale Ho­tel .

Ar­gyll and the Isles is truly a stun­ning part of the coun­try and we are con­fi­dent that visi­tors will eas­ily be able to dis­cover all there is to see and do in the re­gion through our mul­ti­ple chan­nels for many years to come.

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