A decision to close the Lochboisdale Visit Scotland office has been met with incredulity by Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan.
Visit Scotland say that following the departure of a key member of staff, they made ‘numerous’ attempts to recruit seasonal staff for the centre – all of which were unsuccessful.
As a result, the tourism body has decided not to re-open the office.
Comhairle councillors will be told tomorrow (Tuesday June 7) that Visit Scotland has accelerated its programme of consultation regarding the provision of visitor information in the South Uist area.
A report to go before the Sustainable Development committee reads: “Comhairle officers have been advised that Visit Scotland are currently working with industry colleagues and key stakeholders to ensure that information will be available in as many locations as possible, including accommodation providers and visitor attractions.”
Discussions are ongoing with key stakeholders as to how best provide information to visitors in the South Uist area.
Alasdair Allan today said that many in the community had voiced concern at the proposed closure of the facility, and questions had been raised about how extensive the search for new staff for the site was.
“I find it hard to believe that there is not a single, suitable person available within the community able to carry out this role,” he said.
“This move would leave Lochboisdale as the only place in the Western Isles where tourists disembarking from a ferry from the mainland are not able to find a Tourist Information Centre.
“Clearly, tourism is becoming more and more important to the isles. In Lochboisdale the new harbour development only opened last year, and the more frequent ferry service to the mainland should help to draw more tourists in to the area. Tourist Information Centres provide a vital role in helping visitors get the most out of their trip and I am concerned about the implications of its permanent removal.”
Added the MSP: “I hope all of these factors have been taken into consideration and that VisitScotland will consider the pleas from the community for this facility to be kept open.”
Visit Scotland were unavailable for comment.