Outer Hebrides Tourism (OHT) has asked VisitScotland for an urgent review of its decision to close Lochboisdale Visitor Information Centre (VIC).
Alan Graham, the Vice-Chairman of Outer Hebrides Tourism (OHT) and the co-owner of Orasay Inn tourist business in Lochcarnan, comments: “It is sad that OHT, the organisation representing businesses across the tourism industry in the Outer Hebrides, were neither involved nor consulted on this decision.”
OHT has therefore now expressed its concern to VisitScotland about tourist information provision in the Outer Hebrides. Whilst OHT was briefed on a wider review in December 2015, it was assured that any changes to local visitor information centres, and the process of doing so, would be discussed with them. That has not happened.
“Whilst OHT recognises and welcomes the use of digital technology as an information source, we are proud that the experience of a holiday in the Outer Hebrides is renowned for the local personal touch so loved by visitors. Visitors should not have to rely solely on a world-wide web for local information. But relying on enlisting tourism businesses in Lochboisdale to plug the gap left by the closure by signing them up to VisitScotland’s new ‘Visitor Information Partner' campaign is unfair on busy businesses focussed on meeting the needs of their own visitors."
OHT says it would have been keen to discuss possibilities for interim arrangements for the Lochboisdale VIC had the recruitment problem been properly shared with its team. OHT has now sought a meeting with VisitScotland to explore all options to reinstate this visitor information centre at Lochboisdale as a matter of urgency. Ferry passengers arriving at Lochboisdale now find the nearest visitor centres are in Castlebay, another ferry journey away on Barra, and Lochmaddy, several islands and a long drive to the north.