South Scotland

Online tourist information hits visitor centre numbers

Visitor centre Image copyright Billy McCrorie

A trend towards tourists accessing information online has been cited as a reason behind plans to shut a south of Scotland visitor centre.

Dumfries and Galloway councillors are being asked to agree to close a face-to-face service in Newton Stewart.

It comes after usage figures showed a 66% drop in footfall over the past five years.

A 12-month pilot of providing visitor information at another site in the town is being proposed.

VisitScotland is currently carrying out a nationwide review of visitor information provision.

Visitor information centre footfall in Dumfries and Galloway
Centre 09/10 10/11 11/12 12/13 13/14 +/- %
Castle Douglas 25,737 23,315 17,394 15,945 15,168 -41%
Dumfries 58,612 40,118 42,984 38,208 39,574 -32%
Gretna 44,206 42,497 47,567 44,896 49,599 +13%
Kirkcudbright 44,496 57,478 45,602 46,199 40,568 -9%
Newton Stewart 6,088 4,967 2,730 2,468 2,065 -66%
Stranraer 19,506 21,175 21,062 15,961 17,125 -12%
Moffat 14,422 10,409 11,597 225,424 287,707 n/a
Gatehouse 29,978 29,334 43,675 41,341 35,316 +18%

Figures in a report to councillors present a mixed view of performance at centres across Dumfries and Galloway.

Sites in Castle Douglas, Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Stranraer and Newton Stewart have all seen numbers fall although they have risen in Gretna.

Two "partnership" centres - run alongside other businesses in Moffat and Gatehouse of Fleet - boast rising footfall.

'Alternative uses'

Plans for some kind of information service to passengers arriving from ferries at Cairnryan are also in the pipeline.

Figures for the centre at Dashwood Square in Newton Stewart have dropped from more than 6,000 to just about 2,000 in the past five years.

The report said a rise in the use of online resources meant less demand for face-to-face provision in some locations.

A year-long trial of a service at the Wigtown Rural Enterprises Office in the town is being proposed.

The council said it would look for "alternative uses" for the building being vacated by the visitor information centre.

It said staff involved would be found other employment within VisitScotland.

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