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37


Dartmouth Visitor Centre


W


hile many towns in Britain are losing their visitor centres due to declining funding and tech-


nological advances, Dartmouth’s award winning centre is going from strength to strength. Situated right in the heart of the town, it welcomes hundreds of tourists every week, has ambitious ex- pansion plans and is about to improve its website and launch a new magazine for 2020. Manager Karen Perrow told our reporter Steph Woolvin the future looks bright... Last year 74,000 people came through the doors of Dartmouth’s Visitor Centre, that’s around 26,000 more than the year before. They’ve created anoth- er entrance so you can gain access through the Royal Avenue Gardens and they’ve also picked up a gold at the Devon Tourism Awards. In fact things are going so well the centre is busy embarking on a £250,000 extension programme. “We’re hoping to create a modern, fresh, bright ‘statement building’ which will catch everyone’s attention,” says Karen Perrow who has been in charge for just over two years. “The plans include an impressive glass façade so people can see into the centre and the roof will resemble a ship’s sail. Inside there will be an exhibition space


“The plans include an


for Mayflower 400, including the mini M400 replica ship currently under construction.” Karen is excited about the project, which she says will really showcase the town’s rich history. “The plans are with South Hams Council at the moment. It’s early stages, but the response from the public has been very positive. We can’t stand still, we have to keep improving and updating.” She says if the project does go ahead they’ll start a rigorous fund raising campaign so building work can be completed in time for the Mayflower celebrations in 2020. It hasn’t always been this


impressive glass façade so people can see into the centre and the


roof will resemble a ship’s sail.”


positive for the centre; three years ago it faced closure due to a lack of money and confidence. “Dartmouth isn’t sheltered from the financial strains which have seen hun- dreds of visitor centres closing across Britain,” Karen explains. “It’s hard for everyone, money


is tight and many public services are suffering. Numbers are dropping because so many people are using smartphones, relying on digital technology to get their information rather than speaking face to face. But we weren’t going to give up that easily here in Dartmouth.” Some crucial tactic talks were held during meetings with hotels, shops, attractions and councils. “Businesses supported with more advertis- ing, the Town Council agreed to underwrite the centre and different merchandise was


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