SELLING REGION . . . tourist centres are seen as a tool in highlighting the region’s natural beauty. Our photograph shows Glencaple as seen from Criffel
Along with Kirkcudbright TIC, the centre on the Whitesands at Dumfries will continue to handle thousands of enquiries each year until a decision is made on where to base a regional hub.
Critics of the plan say that the proposal could damage the ability of selling the region to visitors.
Concern has been expressed by an MP and MSP over the moves which include the closure of both the Castle Douglas and Stranraer offices over the next two year.
Dumfries and Galloway’s man at Westminster Alister Jack said: “I am concerned that the closure of these centres in Stranraer and Castle Douglas is yet more centralisation of local services.”
Joined by Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson in expressing concern, Mr Jack added: “While I recognise that technology has changed the way we get our news and conduct our business, it is important that we retain as many local services as possible.
“Tourism is one of the key drivers of our local economy here in Dumfries and Galloway, supporting almost 7000 jobs and worth over £300 million.”
VisitScotland say that the 39 outlets being closed will be replaced with 26 ‘high impact regional hubs’ across the country, including one in Dumfries and Galloway.
A statement said: “With a 58 per cent drop in footfall to VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland in the past decade, and two out of three visitors now accessing information online, a radical approach is being introduced to ensure customer demands are met.”
In addition to the regional hubs, VisitScotland have recruited over 1500 information partners made up of local businesses to assist visitors, and will use their fleet of ‘Coo Vans’ to offer pop-up information hubs at major tourist attractions and events.
Mr Jack said: “While I welcome the idea of a new high impact regional hub I hope VisitScotland recognise that Dumfries and Galloway is a large rural area and when deciding where the regional hub should be based, take into consideration the need for the new facility to work for the whole of the region and promote everything that we have to offer.”
Mr Carson said he will seek to ensure that Visit Scotland make alternative arrangements for adequate resources to be met in Castle Douglas and Stranraer.