Call for tourist centre probe

Stonehaven's Dunnottar Castle
Stonehaven's Dunnottar Castle

A Holyrood committee has been asked to investigate the closure of tourist information centres in Scotland.

VisitScotland announced last October that 39 of its 65 centres would shut over the next two years, leaving 26 “high impact regional hubs”.

The organisation said the decision was in response to the popularity of digital services among visitors.

Stonehaven was one of the offices to close its doors.

MP Angus MacNeil, whose constituency is in the Western Isles, has written to Joan McAlpine, chair of Holyrood’s Committee on Culture Tourism, Europe and External Affairs, seeking a probe into the impact of the closures.

He wants the committee to look into how decisions were made and the impact on tourism in remote and rural areas.

Mr MacNeil said: “A 70-mile stretch of my constituency covering a number of islands will go from having three tourist information offices to having none.

“VisitScotland appear to have decided to close tourist offices purely on the basis of footfall without regard to the geography of the area or to the number of visitors compared to the size of the resident population.”

Meanwhile, Stonehaven and District Community Council chair Phil Mills-Bishop said the loss of the local office was a major blow.

He added: “People visiting the area like to see a friendly face, have a chat and ask questions about local tourist attractions.

“The decision on tourist centres seems to be based on the same reason as the banks.”