VisitScotland information centres to close by 2026 amid 'changing tourism landscape'

This will be the last year visitors can visit a VisitScotland information centre as hubs set to close from September

Tourism body VisitScotland will begin closing all information centres across the country after this summer.

This year will be the last visitors can go in looking for a map, a leaflet, or any other advice after bosses announced the hubs would start shutting their doors for good from September.

Chiefs say most visitors now do their holiday research online – but the news has prompted a mixed reaction from tourists and locals.

Geoff Morrison, founder of Stirling Old Town Jail, told STV News: “We’re of course very disappointed to learn of the closing of the information centre. We have a very close relationship with the team there and they do a remarkable job.

“On days they are closed we are inundated with requests for local information. There still is a strong demand there.

“It’s going to be a significant loss. We do understand the rationale but we need to know how we can plug that gap.”

Geoff Morrison said he was 'very disappointed' to learn the local information centre was closing

Scotland already lost the majority of its VisitScotland tourist offices five years ago.

The hub in Balloch is often the first point of call for the millions of tourists visiting Loch Lomond and the Trossachs every year.

It will be one of the next to go, amid the phased closure of all of VisitScotland’s remaining iCentres from September 2024.

VisitScotland said it was a strategic decision, following a drop in visitors to the hubs in recent years.

Marketing director Vicki Miller said: “We know through our research that more and more of that holiday planning is happening before they get here.

VisitScotland marketing manager Vicki Miller

“Visitors want to plan the greatest trip, and therefore they are looking to online resources predominantly for all of that inspiration and information. We see that through all types of visitors.”

“The reality is we’ve seen a significant decline in usage over a number of years. The volume is just not there anymore.”

VisitScotland said they will now focus their efforts on online influencing to point people in the direction of Scotland’s favourite tourist attractions.

Ms Miller added: “We need to adapt our approach in order to fulfil our role of growing the visitor economy.”

Staff will be redeployed, reskilled or offered voluntary redundancy as the 25 centres close over the next two years.

Lord Thurso, VisitScotland’s 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.

Tourism information centres to close by 2026

“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.”

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