TOURISM BLOW: Visit Scotland to close all its information centres

Visit Scotland is to close its centre in Portree

VisitScotland’s entire network of information centres – including the one at Portree in Skye – will close over the next two years.

The agency say the closures will be part of a strategy designed to grow the visitor economy ‘by influencing visitors in the planning stage of their trip, before they leave home’.   

Visit Scotland – which used to have dozens of tourist information centres throughout the Highlands – currently operates just 25 premises, known as iCentres, spread across the country. 

When they close there will be no compulsory redundancies, with staff offered a range of options including reskilling, redeployment and voluntary redundancies.

The national tourism organisation said they have made the decision because of 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.

This includes arranging accommodation and activities before they arrive at their destination.  

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

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

Lord Thurso, VisitScotland chair, 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.”