North West Wales

Jobs may go as Gwynedd tourists surf web

Porthdinllaen beach
Image caption According to Gwynedd council, many people know what they want to do before arriving in the county

A big growth in web use by visitors to Gwynedd is helping lead to the closure of three tourist information centres.

That could mean the loss of seasonal jobs, down from 10 posts to three, which the council says would save more than £76,000 a year.

To replace some of the old-style information points, 12 "satellite" centres would open across the county featuring the Discover Gwynedd website.

Councillors will discuss the new plans at a meeting on Tuesday.

The council currently runs six tourist information centres which are open all year.

If the report is accepted, they would be reduced to three main information centres open six months a year, along with three other centres run in conjunction with the private sector.

"The pattern of tourist information centre use has changed and we've seen a 48% drop in the number of people who use them," Sian Jones, the tourism and marketing officer with Gwynedd council.

"More and more visitors are using the website to inform their decisions, and to collect information about what is on offer in Gwynedd," she added.

Social networking

The report before councillors notes that over the past three years the council had reacted to this change by investing in the Snowdonia Mountains and Coast website and web use had increased accordingly.

On average the number of visits to the site increased from 2,000 to 4,000 each month to between 10,000 and 20,000 per month.

"We are not doing away with the service, we are just offering information in a new way," Ms Jones added.

The website also makes it possible for information to be sent directly to mobile phones, as well as social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

This gave the opportunity to market specific events such as BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend, the report said.

Another change would be the implementation of the 12 new access points to the Discover Gwynedd website.

One will be at the Inigo Jones slate works at Groeslon near Caernarfon.

John Lloyd, from the company, said the closure of the traditional tourist information points was a sign of the times, as there were cuts everywhere.

"I understand why this is happening, but I'd like them to make sure that the centres at Caernarfon, Porthmadog and Barmouth are kept open," he said.

The changes are recommended for approval when Gwynedd Council board meet to discuss "Restructuring of Gwynedd Council Tourist Information Centres" at the council office in Caernarfon at 1400 GMT on Tuesday.

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