VisitScotland to close 39 of 65 tourist centres
Tourism: Aim is to meet visitors’ digital needs
Scottish tourism bosses have confirmed nearly two-thirds of their tourist information centres will close as part of a “radical” move, designed to meet the increasingly digital needs of visitors.
VisitScotland announced that 39 of its 65 centres would shut over the next two years, leaving 26 “high impact regional hubs” open – nine of which will be in the north-east and Highland regions.
The organisation is blaming a 58% decline in footfall at existing centres in the past 12 years for the closures. Led by Lord Thurso, the current chairman of VisitScotland, the strategy will permanently axe centres in Thurso, Fort Augustus, Fraserburgh, Sumburgh, Durness, Banff, Huntly, Stonehaven, Drumnadrochit, Lochinver, Strontian, Castlebay, Lochmaddy, Stromness, Sumburgh, Inverary and Campbeltown.
Owner of Loch Ness marketing, William Cameron, last night criticised the decision and argued it would put tourists off. He said: “People still want to see people. We need to look after our customers.
“It is vital that they get the right information from properly-trained staff and not just any Tom, Dick or Harry.
“Tourism in this region is booming, with staggering amounts of people flocking to Skye, Loch Ness and the NC 500. Without the proper infrastructure we are going to put them off ever coming back.” Some of the centres will cease trading at the end of the month.
Stonehaven community council chairman, Phil Mills-Bishop described the decision as a sign of the times and added: “A lot of the community will see it as another visual sign of Stonehaven atrophying after the closures of Stonehaven Magistrates Court, and Clydesdale and RBS Banks.”
However Neil Christensen from Visit Scotland confirmed that they are continuing to support the Acheres-Stonehaven Twinning/Concordat and other projects and will put more resources into online services.
Staff affected are to be offered redundancy packages or the chance of redeployment. The number of job losses is not yet known.
Other centres earmarked for closure include those at Edinburgh and Glasgow Airports and Tyndrum.
Jo Robinson of VisitScotland, said: “It’s time to switch our focus and investment into new and diverse initiatives.”
“Without proper infrastructure we’ll put them off coming back”