TICTACTICS Tactics for retaining a Tourist Information Centre Ed Grimsdale
Tourist Information Centres (TIC) are at risk. The attack comes from two fronts:
District Councils strapped for cash that notice there is no statutory requirement to provide Tourist Information Centres.
The WWW. Its proponents argue that people can now easily obtain a wider array of information about routes and destinations on-line, and that the spread of multimedia com- munication devices means that tourists can obtain site and town information in real-time whilst they are exploring.
On-going developments in Web technology provide is a ready defence for those councillors who argue that little will be the lost if smaller TICs are closed. Apparently, 65% of all holidays booked in the UK now employ at least one reference to the Internet.
But there is a substantial minority of people who do not sport Anoraks and Webbed feet. And local communities often feel that a loss of dedicated personnel, building and telephone point, “their” TIC will push their town off the tourists’ radar. Towns and villages want a “hands-on” approach, a personal and local input to the way in which their location is advertised to travellers.
The result is that more and more Town and Parish Councils are directly funding their own information offices. The problem
tic t tacics
remains : how should TICs best be funded and provided?
One way is to include them within an amenity that will be on the itinerary of tourists e.g. a local museum. This allows cross-funding and shared staffing between local authorities and independent charitable bodies.
Some towns in
Southern England where Town or Parish Councils
support or run amenities such as a museum or
Tourist Information Centre: East Grinstead Faringdon Godalming Haslemere Henfield
Littlehampton Redbourn Royston
Another ploy has been successfully used by Aylesbury Vale District Council : to work in partnership. Aylebury’s own TIC moved during March 2006 from an anonymous- looking shop to an ancient coaching Inn “The King’s Head”. This venture was put together by Ian Barham, Tourism Officer, AVDC and involved the District Council working in partnership with new building’s owner - The National Trust - and using advice and support from Tourism South- East.
Around the central Courtyard are clustered a revived “Farmers’ Bar”, the TIC, a space for an antiquarian bookshop, toilets for tourists and a lively display showing aspects of coaching history. The building’s situation, one street back from the market place with no public profile had made it a difficult property for the National Trust to market, but the transfer of 100 000 personal callers who visit Aylesbury’s TIC every year will make a huge difference.
Buckingham T.I.C is funded by its District Council but the staff also look after the local Museum that is run by an independent trust. The T.I.C. is housed in the “Old Gaol” which is over 250 years old. Extra support for the T.I.C. comes from rent from Thames Valley Police that operates an inquiry desk in the basement of the building.
Across in Wendover, there’s a different model. Like Buckingham, Wendover lies within Aylesbury Vale, but its information bureau receives no District Council support. The TIC is housed within Wendover’s brick clocktower which acts as a focal point at the head of the small town’s main street. The TIC is totally funded by Wendover Parish Council and the Council use the premises as their own contact point.
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