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25 ‘iCentres’ to close as VisitScotland takes tourism digital

VisitScotland has announced plans to close all of its information centres across the country as it moves to a “digital-first strategy.”

The iCentres, which are found across Scotland – a total of 25 according to the tourism body’s website, will all be shut down over the next two years under the plans, with tourist information moving online.

VisitScotland has said that all of the centres will be running normally until September, with a phased programme of closures over 18 months coming in from then.

A total of 170 staff could be affected by the plans – 120 permanent workers and 50 seasonal employees – although VisitScotland has said there will be no compulsory redundancies and staff have been offered a range of options including reskilling, redeployment and voluntary redundancy with arrangements to be made locally for each closure.

The Scottish Government has backed the move from VisitScotland, noting that the body’s equivalents in England and Wales do not run information centres, and adding in a statement that  “Decisions around how to best target resources and share information with visitors to Scotland are operational matters for VisitScotland.”

Perhaps surprisingly given the situation in England and Wales, the UK Government has urged the Scottish executive to reconsider.

Scotland Office minister John Lamont said: “The closure of all 25 VisitScotland tourist information centres across the country will be a blow to our towns and puts at a disadvantage the many thousands of tourists from the UK and beyond who use their services.

“While online tourism is growing, it is not available to all and these centres from Lerwick to Dumfries ensure vital information can be accessed by those tourists, particularly the elderly. I’d urge the Scottish Government to consider the impact this will have on local businesses and on visitors to areas where tourism is a huge part of the local economy.”

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