Gairloch And Loch Ewe Action Forum were this week seeking to reassure its members and the wider community that there is absolutely no change to the tourist information service it provides in the area.
An email that was circulated by VisitScotland’s regional partnership director for the north, Scott Armstrong, on Monday stated that the organisation was to discontinue its partnership with “GALE Community Centre” (pictured) from that day.
However, GALE general manager Janet Miles pointed out that no such partnership had existed for the last three years and that the action forum provided its own independent tourism service.
She added: “GALE was very surprised at being copied into an e-mail containing inaccurate information about GALE tourist information provision in Gairloch. We are disappointed at VisitScotland’s discourteous treatment of and misleading information about our local community-based organisation.
“The fact that they cannot even get the name of the organisation they claim to have been in partnership with correct in their communication speaks for itself. We are happy to continue to display their printed literature as we have always done, but we would like to reiterate that the visitor information point that is part of the GALE Centre is a community resource independent of VisitScotland and has been since it opened in May 2012.”
GALE currently provides a comprehensive independent, community-owned and managed tourist information service from its centre in Gairloch.
Ms Miles added: “We have no plans to change how we operate this service and will continue to provide year-round free tourist information to the 25,000 people who come into the centre each year. The tourist information service that we provide in the Gairloch and Loch Ewe area is self-funded by GALE with no external funding or grant support.
“Our staff and volunteers will continue to work hard to maintain these high standards and improve our service and facilities year on year. Indeed we are currently working with Aultbea Regeneration Company to develop ways of providing a satellite tourist information service from their proposed new community hub.”
A statement from VisitScotland made no mention of Mr Armstrong’s mistake.
A spokeswoman said: “VisitScotland and GALE have been in discussions for some months now about how best to ensure that both organisations’ goals and priorities continue to be achieved and an agreement has now been reached. From 20th July, there will no longer be an official service level agreement with GALE Community Centre in Gairloch. VisitScotland is working in partnership with local industry to secure an additional location for the summer season and complimenting (sic) to the offering that GALE provides for Gairloch through racking and ‘What To See and Do’ guides.
“VisitScotland will continue to work with the local industry in Wester Ross, including Gairloch, with a view to drive footfall into areas visitors they would not necessarily be aware of.”