Edinburgh Airport tourist information office to be axed

Visitors are using the internet to get information. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor / J P License
Visitors are using the internet to get information. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor / J P License
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The tourist information centre at Edinburgh Airport is set to be axed as VisitScotland prepare to shut more than half of its outlets.

Despite soaring numbers of tourists from overseas countries, VisitScotland has blamed shifting demands for the decision to shut down 39 of its 65 outlets across the country over the next two years.

Visitor attractions, local businesses, tourism groups and even car hire firms will be asked to take on the work of the “information centres” that are closing.

Those that survive its “information revolution” will also be turned into new regional hubs and will be expected to promote much wider areas than before.

VisitScotland has cited a 58 per cent drop in footfall at its centres over the last ten years as growing numbers of visitors have turned to the internet.

VisitScotland says 71 workers are affected, but staff are being offered the chance to relocate or re-train.

The centres in both Edinburgh and Glasgow airports are among those affected, along with those at Drumnadrochit, Aberfeldy, Loch Ness, Dunfermline, Lanark, Callander, Inverary and Dunkeld.

The tourism agency said that the 26 sites which have survived the cull are all in locations of “greater visitor demand”.

VisitScotland’s announcement came on the day it emerged that the number of overseas visitors has risen by ten per cent. Spending by foreign tourists rose by nearly 20 per cent in the 12 months up to the end of June. The agency is now spending £10 million each year on “digital activity”.

Lord John Thurso, VisitScotland’s chairman, said: “The way visitors access information has changed significantly over the past decade. It’s time to switch our focus and investment into new and diverse initiatives to ensure we’re reaching as many people as possible with the information they want, in the way they want it, when they want it.

“With three in four adults owning a smart phone, a key focus is ensuring our digital communications provide succinct inspirational and informational advice to visitors at every stage of their journey.”

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “Digital information and the widespread use of mobile devices has transformed the way visitors source information and make bookings, both pre and on arrival.

“The world is changing and the tourism industry in Scotland has to respond to ensure we continue to provide the high quality and authentic experiences that our visitors expect at all points of their journeys.”

brian.ferguson@jpress.co.uk