The great Southampton obstacle course

By | Category: Travel rumblings

© Dan Sperrin. The world's a funny place!

Southampton is quite a big city. It has been a major port since the time of the Normans, the Pilgrim Fathers left for the Americas from there and so did allied troops on their way to invade Normandy during WWII. It has three museums, art galleries and longest mediaeval walls in Europe that still remain. Its football team plays in the premiership, there is a strong tradition of sailing and the Titanic left on its only voyage from here.

Altogether you might conclude that Southampton was worth a day trip or a weekend visit.

But perhaps not as the council has closed down its tourist office. The reason given was that nobody was using it.

There are still signs in the city that point to the tourist office in the town hall but nothing was to be found. The reception staff kindly directed people to the library and there, in the basement, was the tourist office. But that had closed. No wonder! How hard can you make it to find the tourist office? Council staff seem to have been taking lessons in designing obstacle courses to put visitors off. There is only so much patience that people have. After a while they despair and give up. That is why there were no visitors. It had nothing to do with low usage, visitors couldn’t find it.

Outside the library, a person suggested something called the Ocean. And what is that? It’s a tea shop cum gift shop with a Titanic exhibition. But it also has the tourism “i” information logo because – according to the Discover Southampton website – it is where you should go for information. But surely if they appointed a third party to handle tourism they would take down the old signs and put up new ones? Wouldn’t they?

But think about it for a moment? A council wouldn’t make it difficult to find a tourist information office. They want to encourage visitors for the money and jobs they bring. Surely this is a new form of tourist attraction. Come to Southampton and join the treasure hunt to find the tourist office. But if you crack the hunt, what prize awaits you? The council didn’t say.

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