Cuts Watch #374: Cuts in tourist information centres
The Guardian reports today that Tourist Information Centres ( TICs) are facing closing across the UK. Recent closure threats include centres in the Cornish tourist hot spots of Falmouth, Penzance and St Ives, while in Wiltshire five are under review, including Salisbury. In Anglesey three will be replaced with scaled down tourist information points, and in Gwynedd the council has estimated losing three centres will save £76,000 per year. Though originally funded by the government, there is no statutory requirement on local authorities, now facing difficult budget decisions, to pay for the running of the centres.
Unison Regional Organiser Stuart Roden, said:
Cornwall relies on tourism; it’s probably the largest industry in the county. Many local businesses could not survive without the help they receive from these centres. Many visitors arrive without having anywhere to stay and rely totally on the centres.
Malcolm Bell, from Visit Cornwall, said:
The number of people who use a TIC before coming to Cornwall is less than 1%. But for information while here, about 30% of visitors would look to a TIC. People still want to have the human side when they are in situ. It’s getting the balance and making it commercially viable.
While there is recognition that the use of the internet has impacted on the use of Toursist Information Centres, Jenny Mcgee, Head of Strategy and Engagement at Visit England, said
When I am on holiday the last thing I want to be doing is looking at my BlackBerry. You want local people, local advice, and you can’t underestimate that personal touch. It’s the ambassador for the area. So, it comes down to how much does the local community value that.
As part of Visit England’s strategic framework for tourism it is now looking at tourist information and the role of TICs, in order to help local authorities find alternatives if they cannot afford to provide a dedicated TIC.