England’s Tourist Information Centres

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Newcastle’s TIC

Criticism from visitors recently has been about the availability and opening hours of tourist information centres commonly known as TIC’s. To some it seems that there are fewer around than there used to be. Local councils complain that they cost a lot to run as they require humans to run them. So more than a few councils have considered whether to reduce their hours, do away with them or hand them over to the volunteer or private sector.
Gloria de Piero, the shadow tourism minister, asked the tourism minister what was spent on TIC’s by central government recently. The answer from John Penrose was that £33 million had been allotted to Visit England over the next four years to help what he called, “support existing and new local destination management organisations in developing the visitor economy in their own areas.”
Does this answer Ms de Peiro’s question? Probably not and it leaves me wondering what sort of information we are likely to find when we arrive at a place. Thirty three million sounds a lot but you can bet a large proportion of it will go in salaries and office locations. Then marketing (very necessary for us to know what is in a destination) will take a chunk as will the production of brochures. Some might go on computer systems including those stand-alone information lectern type things you see at some railway stations or airports. But how much will be left for – what some might say – is the old fashioned office or shop front manned by people who now their local areas and can give you advice and guidance on how to get somewhere where or to recommend what can be seen?
You wander in, tell them something like what local gardens are around and out would come list of places you could see and what their plus points were. Don’t go there today, might say one person, it rained yesterday and the ground stays pretty sticky for a while. Another might say that to get there the roads or paths are pretty steep and do you fancy a long hard walk?
A similar situation exists in Wales where Powys council has had the blame for one TIC closure but says it is funding all the others.
This sort of personal advice is what you and I need when we go around visiting. So let’s hope some of that £33 million is spent providing what visitors want more than many things. Help and advice.

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