VisitScotland to close all tourist information centres

VisitScotland is set to close its network of information centres over the next two years as it phases out face-to-face contact with tourists.

The national tourism body runs round 25 centres across the country with all to close as more money is invested in digital online guides.

UK Government Minister for Scotland John Lamont was among those to criticise the move, urging the Scottish Government to consider the impact on both businesses and visitors.

A total of 170 staff will be affected – 120 permanent workers and 50 seasonal employees.

VisitScotland said there will be no compulsory redundancies and staff have been offered a range of options including reskilling, redeployment and voluntary redundancy.

The organisation said the move followed significant changes to the way people plan their holidays with most using online resources and travel specialists to research and book all aspects of their trips.

TikTok, YouTube, online travel websites and tools like AI are among the ways people now find and plan holiday experiences, it added.

The move comes amid unprecedented visitor numbers in parts of Scotland, with tourist leaders in Skye last week revealing that up to one million visitors are due to arrive on the island this year.

A spokesman for SkyeConnect, a destination management organisation on the island which represents tourism- related businesses and works on projects to deal with high levels of tourist demand, said: “This is another hammer blow for the tourism industry in Scotland.

“It’s the result of the Scottish Government cutting VisitScotland’s budget and comes on the back of Government cuts to Destination Management Organisations, the Highland Ranger service and key rural infrastructure funds.

“The centre in Portree is always busy during the tourist season with visitors seeking information to enhance their time on Skye. It seems tourism and the rural economy is being abandoned by the Scottish Government.”

All VisitScotland information centres – known as iCentres – will operate as usual until the end of September as part of phased two-year closure programme.

Lord Thurso, chairman of VisitScotland said: “In order to continue building demand and growing the value of tourism and events, it is vitally important that we target channels we know visitors use to influence them to visit Scotland.

“Our research shows that as an organisation, we have a greater and more impactful role to play in providing information before visitors travel.

“Prioritising a digital-first model of information provision allows us to reach potential visitors at those early planning stages when we can shape their future travel decisions.

“By evolving our work in this way, we will be able to invest in the activities that will accelerate sustainable growth in the visitor economy, helping create jobs, sustain communities and attract investment for the future.”

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Van Life Matters newsletter or download the Van Life Matters App to stay up-to-date with the latest UK Van Life news, tips and advice.

Related articles

Highland campsite owners ‘livid’ at new £40 campervan and motorhome pass

Mike Ruff

New £40 voluntary motorhome and campervan pass launched in the Highlands

Mike Ruff

Highland Council tourism consultation: Have your say

Mike Ruff

Wildlife in Scotland you need to see

Mike Ruff

Whisky Month and coastal eats in Scotland

Mike Ruff

Investigation launched after motorhome ‘seen’ dumping toilet waste into public drain

Mike Ruff

Leave a Comment

Van Life Matters