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