The decline of the tourist centre

By | Category: Travel news
Tourist Signs. Are tese and they internet to replace tourist information centres?

Tourist Signs. Are tese and they internet to replace tourist information centres?

It has been known that volunteers have been taking over what used to be paid, trained jobs in tourism centres. Local councils see volunteers as a way of reducing costs so where one implements, others copy.

The extent that this has been going on was recently revealed by the government in the House of Lords when The Earl of Glasgow asked whether there was anything the government could do to revitalise tourist centres.

On behalf of the government the Earl of Courtown said that in 2007 there were 510 information centres and today, just 390. No date was given as to what “today” meant. Nor was it said whether this referred to the UK or just England but as tourism is a devolved issue, the assumption is that this figure applies just to England.

A fifth of tourist centres have gone. A fifth of the places where we would have gone in to seek suggestions for accommodation, walks to enjoy and attractions to visit have gone and what has replaced them?

The Earl of Courtown suggested that the effect of the internet is important and “available there for people who want to visit certain areas.” That’s fine for those who use the internet but what of those who do not? Are they to be forgotten?

Newcastle's  former tourist infomation centre in the Grand Arcade

Newcastle’s former tourist infomation centre in the Grand Arcade

Today of those 390 tourist information centres, how many are manned by people? How many sit in arts complexes or other places in a town and are just racks and racks of brochures with no one to assist you? How many groups of those working in the tourist industry club together to make sure that tourist information centres are available in their local community?

Many years ago I went to a tourist information centre in Malvern that was staffed purely by volunteers made up by locals. They were enthusiastic and very knowledgeable about what to see, where to stay and the little nuggets of advice that only locals could provide. It relied on those locals – mostly retired people – and would not exist but for them. One of the very best tourist information centres – that of Newcastle – has been moved into somewhere less large. Surely a sign of the times!

More and more, volunteers may be the way forward. But given the economic value of tourism, councils need reminding of how much tourism brings to their areas and what the impact is of tourist information centres.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: , ,