Tourism Catastrophe For Scotland As Visitor Information Centres Set To Close

VisitScotland has announced that it will close its network of information centres over the next two years. Once a stalwart of most of Scotlands large towns and cities high streets, the Tourist Information Centre has gradually been vanishing.  

DGWGO Founder Robin Baird Stated “This is very sad news, not only will local jobs go, but there is something special about the face to face experience of popping into a Tourist Information Centre  when you are on holiday or visiting a new town/city for a weekend break, Not just in Scotland, but anywhere in the world. The people who work in the centres are always full of great advice, and can give you local information, that you just cant find anywhere else.”

VisitScotland state that the closures are part of a strategy designed to grow the visitor economy of Scotland by influencing visitors in the planning stage of their trip, before they leave home.

The statment said “It follows 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. This includes arranging accommodation and activities before they arrive at their destination.
To adapt to this shift in behaviour, VisitScotland will invest its resources and expertise in a digital-first strategy. It will target channels it knows visitors use to inspire and influence where visitors go, when they come and what they do, including promoting lesser-known destinations and quieter times of year.
The new approach will help the national tourism organisation to deliver its core purpose to drive the visitor economy and grow its value to Scotland by reaching more people and influencing visitors from Scotland’s key global markets.
All VisitScotland information centres – known as iCentres – will operate as usual until the end of September as part of phased two-year closure programme. VisitScotland is currently engaging with stakeholders to discuss local arrangements.
The way visitors access information is changing, and the sphere of influence has widened far beyond in-person and print media to include social media, influencer marketing, online inspiration and online booking.
TikTok, YouTube, online travel websites and tools like AI are among the ways people now find and plan holiday experiences.
Similarly, with almost two thirds (64%) of international visitors to Scotland booking as part of a package, the role tour operators and travel agents can play in helping international visitors plan holidays to Scotland has also become increasingly important.”
Lord Thurso, VisitScotland Chair, said:“The tourism landscape has changed significantly in recent years. The demand for iCentres has reduced while the demand for online information and booking has continued to grow. 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.
“Together with businesses and our partners, we want to build on success and ensure that across all areas of our work – marketing, destination development, business advice, insights and events – we prioritise the activities that will deliver for our industry and for Scotland.
“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.”