Tourism chiefs axe five visi­tor hubs in re­gion as part of na­tional shake-up

Evening Express (City Final) - - News - By Lee McCann

FIVE North-east tourism cen­tres are to close in a ma­jor shake-up of the ser­vice.

VisitS­cot­land has said the iCen­tres in Stone­haven, Fraser­burgh, Banff and Huntly will stop trad­ing af­ter this month, with Brae­mar set to close by March 2019.

How­ever, the cen­tres in Aberdeen and Bal­later, which is cur­rently be­ing re­built, are to re­main.

Across Scot­land 39 of the 65 cen­tres will shut, leav­ing 26 “high im­pact” hubs.

VisitS­cot­land said the changes are the re­sult of an in­crease in vis­i­tors ac­cess­ing its dig­i­tal ser­vices, and also high­lighted a 58% drop in foot­fall at the in­for­ma­tion cen­tres across Scot­land in the last 12 years.

Ten mem­bers of staff are af­fected by the clo­sures in Aberdeen­shire, but it is un­der­stood they will be of­fered roles at other cen­tres.

The Aberdeen and Bal­later VisitS­cot­land iCen­tres will be among 26 new travel hubs ex­pected to wel­come more than 53,000 vis­i­tors a year.

Bal­later iCen­tre is cur­rently be­ing re­built within the Old Royal Sta­tion fol­low­ing a fire in 2015 and is due to wel­come its first vis­i­tors next year.

VisitS­cot­land said in­for­ma­tion will con­tinue to be pro­vided in all the lo­ca­tions thanks to “part­ner­ship ar­range­ments” with visi­tor at­trac­tions and or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Peo­ple who work in the tourist in­dus­try across the re­gion had mixed views about the changes. Aberdeen­shire Coun­cil runs the Mac­duff Aquar­ium, and the au­thor­ity’s head of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment Belinda Miller said: “All pub­lic agen­cies re­alise the way peo­ple ac­cess in­for­ma­tion has changed and have to re­act to that, of­fer­ing peo­ple what they want and need in their pre­ferred for­mat.

“Aberdeen­shire will be no less pop­u­lar as a tourist des­ti­na­tion as a re­sult of these changes, though in­for­ma­tion on what’s on of­fer will still have to be well sign­posted and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble.

“We are con­fi­dent VisitS­cot­land’s new strat­egy will achieve this; giv­ing vis­i­tors the chance to con­sume tourism in­for­ma­tion at a time and place to suit them.

“The drop in foot­fall at tra­di­tional in­for­ma­tion points and the in­crease

The Land Train is a pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tion for vis­i­tors to Stone­haven dur­ing the height of the hol­i­day sea­son in the North-east. in the con­sump­tion of dig­i­tal re­sources showed things had to change, but there will still be many phys­i­cal places in Aberdeen­shire for vis­i­tors to get in­for­ma­tion and ben­e­fit from lo­cal knowl­edge if they pre­fer that.”

Mean­while, Linda McGuigan, man­ager of the Mu­seum of Scot­tish Light­houses in Fraser­burgh, which housed the iCen­tre in its build­ing said: “Our cen­tre was quite wellused be­cause peo­ple were al­ready here vis­it­ing the light­house.

“I don’t think this will af­fect our foot­fall or tourism num­bers and we re­ceive a lot of sup­port from VisitS­cot­land. I hope that doesn’t change.

“I will be look­ing to speak to them and see where things go from here, as we will need to make some changes with the cen­tre clos­ing at the end of the month.

Jim Stephen, chair­man of Stone­haven Town Part­ner­ship, which runs the Land Train in the sea­side town and the car­a­van park, said: “We are gut­ted that the visi­tor

The way to ac­cess in­for­ma­tion has changed

on the road:

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