Tourist information centre in Jedburgh saved from axe, but one in Peebles to close next year
Jedburgh's tourist information centre has been spared the axe as part of the cull of advice offices for visitors announced by VisitScotland in October last year.
It will be the only VisitScotland iCentre left in the region following the closure of its counterpart in Peebles High Street in February next year and the handover of its opposite number in Hawick to leisure trust Live Borders eight months later.
Kelso’s town hall iCentre, one of 40 being scrapped nationwide by VisitScotland, has already shut.
Jedburgh’s iCentre’s future has been secured by its being named as the regional hub for the 70-plus tourist information points across the Borders.
The Murray’s Green office, next to the town’s abbey, is one of 26 such hubs being created nationwide and is now in line for extra investment, including having £6,000 spent on new signage.
VisitScotland points to a drop in footfall of almost 60% at its iCentres since 2005 as justification for closing them.
A spokesperson for the tourism promotion body said: “A pioneering tourism project by VisitScotland is being extended into the Scottish Borders region to meet the increasing changes in the ways visitors seek information.
“As digital channels and the widespread use of mobile devices have transformed the way visitors source information and make bookings, we have taken innovative steps to create a more consumer-orientated approach.
“The new strategy will address a 58% drop in footfall to VisitScotland information centres across Scotland from seven million visitors in 2005, with two out of three visitors now accessing information online.
“This dynamic approach is being introduced to ensure customer demands are met by an increase in the number of channels providing content on places to visit and stay.
“These steps will be supported by 26 manned centres in key high-profile locations across the country operating as regional travel hubs and benefiting from greater investment and a wider geographical remit.
“For the Borders, Jedburgh will now be the hub for the region, with the iCentre in Peebles ceasing trading from February 17, 2019.
“Jedburgh’s iCentre will be supported, however, by over 70 VisitScotland information partners across the Borders, including a wide range of accommodation establishments, encompassing hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, self-catering facilities and camping sites.
“This new approach will allow us to reflect changing visitor demands and deliver more personalised information through a diverse range of channels so people stay longer, spend more and help to grow the economy.”
VisitScotland is also investing around £10m in its digital activity.
Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, added: “The way visitors access information has changed significantly, and we need to reflect this by switching investment to new initiatives in order to reach more people with personalised information so they stay longer, spend more and grow the visitor economy.
“The new two–year strategy will see a significant increase in the number of channels providing content on places to visit and stay, with a mix of industry partners and digital products sitting alongside 26 key iCentres in high-impact locations.”