Tourist info to close as services are relocated

Two staff posts are to go in a move by VisitScotland which will see Newton Stewart’s Tourist Information Centre relocated from Dashwood Square.

Tourist services will instead be provided on a 12-month pilot scheme from the Wigtown Rural Development Company (WRDC) staff in its building on Queen Street after visitor numbers fell by 4,000 in five years.

A report due before Dumfries and Galloway Council next week by the authority’s business and enterprise service manager Chris Brown claims that a review of trends indicates the way people access information is changing with visitors now using online resources more often.

In 2009/10, visitor numbers through the door of the centre totalled 6,088 but in 2013/14 year that figure was just 2,065 – the lowest of all centres in the region.

The plan by operator VisitScotland is to relocate the services and to train existing WRDC staff in how to deliver tourist services.

It is proposed to offer the tourist information centre’s current two seasonal staff alternative employment within VisitScotland.

No staff currently man the building in autumn and winter and the council report states that WRDC staff will be present all year to deliver services to visitors. It also claims there will be little cost in the relocation.

Newton Stewart’s Tourist Information Centre has recorded the lowest visitor numbers across the region over the years, with Castle Douglas reporting 15, 168 in the 2013/14 season ; Stranraer with 17,125 andKirkcudbright with the second highest in the region (after Gretna) recording 40, 265 visits. In comparison, visits to the Dumfries and Galloway section of VisitScotland’s website climbed 38.2% in the same year.

Mr Brown added: “WRDC staff have, for a number of years, signposted visitors to local and regional attractions and accommodation so are already expeienced.”