All VisitScotland tourist information centres to close

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

All tourist information centres run by VisitScotland are set to close over the next two years as visitors are being influenced to plan their trip before they leave home.

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.

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. 

To adapt to this shift in behaviour, VisitScotland said it will instead invest its resources and expertise in a digital-first strategy by targeting 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 aims to 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 global markets. 

The UK Government Minister for Scotland John Lamond described the move as a “blow to our towns” adding it “puts at a disadvantage the many thousands of tourists who use their services”.

UK Government Minister for Scotland John Lamont said: “The closure of all 25 VisitScotland tourist information centres across the country will be a blow to our towns and puts at a disadvantage the many thousands of tourists from the UK and beyond, who use their services. While online tourism is growing, it is not available to all and these centres from Lerwick to Dumfries ensure vital information can be accessed by those tourists, particularly the elderly. 

“I’d urge the Scottish Government to consider the impact this will have on local businesses and on visitors to areas where tourism is a huge part of the local economy.”

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

VisitScotland is currently engaging with stakeholders to discuss local arrangements. 

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. 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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