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VisitScotland announces visitor information centres to close over next two years

By Val Sweeney

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VisitScotland has announced its network of information centres will close over the next two years.
VisitScotland has announced its network of information centres will close over the next two years.

VisitScotland has announced it will close its network of information centres over the next two years.

The centres - which provide tourist information and advice as well as local recommendations - are located across Scotland including Inverness High Street, Aviemore and Ullapool.

They also include a retail element, promoting gifts from local artists, designers and craftspeople.

The national tourism organisations says the demand for information centres has reduced while the demand for online information and booking has continued to grow.

The closures are part of a strategy designed to grow the visitor economy by influencing visitors in the planning stage of their trip, before they leave home.

It says 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 including arranging accommodation and activities before they arrive at their destination.

To adapt to this shift in behaviour, VisitScotland says it will invest its resources and expertise in a digital-first strategy.

It will target 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.

It says the new approach will help to deliver its core purpose to drive the visitor economy and grow its value to Scotland by reaching more people and influencing visitors from Scotland’s key global markets.

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

VisitScotland is currently engaging with stakeholders to discuss local arrangements.

It says 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 per cent) 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.

Lord Thurso, VisitScotland chairman, 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.”

For more information visit VisitScotland.

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