South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has expressed his disappointment at the news that VisitScotland plan to press ahead with the closure of Visitor Information Centre’s in Stranraer, Kirkcudbright and Gretna.
VisitScotland have confirmed that after a period of consultation since October, the three centres will cease trading from 17 February 2019. The Dumfries centre will remain open as a “regional hub” for Dumfries and Galloway.
Colin Smyth MSP said, “This news won’t come as a surprise to anyone, given the fall in the number of people who use Visitor Information Centres. However, that doesn’t make the announcement any less disappointing, not only as far as promoting tourism in the area is concerned but also the impact on loyal staff based at the centres. Staff have provided a comprehensive, impartial advice invaluable service for many years. Throughout the whole closure programme, I have stressed to VisitScotland my concerns over the impact on staff. Whilst they have given a commitment to no compulsory redundancies, geography will make it difficult for staff to access new opportunities within the organisation. If you have family ties and other commitments, you can’t suddenly move for employment so VisitScotland have a duty to provide support to help people find alternative jobs in the area.”
“The latest three closures will all have an impact on the individual communities affected”
“The Stranraer Centre, on the waterfront is a key location and it is vital that a way is found to retain a permanent physical presence in the town for visitors to continue to get information from when visiting the area”.
“At a time we have just celebrated the opening of the new Art Gallery in Kirkcudbright to add to the strong tourism offer already in the area, many people will see it as a backward step to lose the information centre in the town”.
“The Gretna centre is located in an area visited everyday by thousands of people and was a great way to promote our region. It is vital that a presence is maintained in what is the gateway to Dumfries and Galloway.”
“The decision to retain the Dumfries centre as a regional hub is at least one consolation, given how important tourism is to our region’s economy”.
“It is vital that any savings made by VisitScotland over these closures is used to market our region which still suffers from a lack of promotion compared to many other parts of Scotland, despite the fact we have so much to offer visitors”.