VisitScotland urged to reverse decision to shut Peebles tourist information centre
Borders MSP Christine Grahame is calling on VisitScotland to reverse its decision to close its Peebles tourist information centre.
The Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP has written to VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead to demand a rethink.
That decision, announced last month, will leave Jedburgh’s tourist information centre – almost 40 miles away – as the only one run by VisitScotland in the Borders, though Hawick’s will survive too after a change of management.
Ms Grahame said: “I was dismayed to hear about the decision to close the centre in Peebles and have been contacted by constituents with concerns about what this could mean for tourism in the local area.
“I understand VisitScotland’s decision to close centres is based on a national trend of falling footfall, but I have asked them to provide the data for Peebles specifically as this centre seems well used.
“I have visited the centre on the High Street, and it is easily seen and accessible, bright, modern and airy, sharing accommodation with Scottish Borders Council.
“Peebles also has double the population of Jedburgh, which has had its centre saved, and a well-established tourist trade based around its High Street with its many independent shops.
“I understand the need to expand Visit Scotland’s online offering to meet modern demand. However, in a popular tourist destination such as Peebles, this should be in conjunction with face-to-face provision with that personal touch.
There will always be those who don’t access online services, perhaps some older visitors or those coming from abroad who don’t have a device with 4G internet access here, and this decision could risk Peebles missing out onessential tourist trade.”
In her letter to Mr Roughead, she says: “I do not dispute your claim that there has been a 58% decrease in footfall nationally, but on what data was it decided that Peebles should close and that Jedburgh should become the hub for the Scottish Borders?
“It is also surprising that VisitScotland has located its hub at Jedburgh.
“Jedburgh is more than 37 miles from Peebles with a population half its size, Jedburgh’s being 4,000 and Peebles’ 8,000.
“Peebles is also a very busy tourist destination, especially for older people, and probably not all turn or wish to turn to the internet, who enjoy the High Street , where the centre is located, a High Street which has maintained many small independent shops and businesses.
“There are also Dawyck Gardens and many other attractions nearby.
“Part of that experience is visiting the local tourist information centre, with the personal service and local knowledge provided by its staff.
“It is nigh impossible to discuss and discover with the same clarity what might suit an individual with a computer. Many visitors prefer the personal touch.”
The Peebles tourist information centre, one of 40 being scrapped nationwide, is due to close in February.