Banff and Buchan councillors were given a report on the state of Visitor Information Centres in Aberdeenshire last week and heard proposals which could see many of the centres either form a partnership with other businesses in their towns or reduce employee numbers.
The report, from the director of infrastructure, Stephen Archer, told councillors in attendance that the, during 2012, VisitScotland had carried out a review of of their information centres in Aberdeenshire.
“It is proposed that VisitScotland and Aberdeenshire Council work over the next 3 years in order to achieve the Scottish local Authorities Econimic Development (SLAED) model of funding,” the report says.
Under the model, there would be a 50-50 split of funding between VisitScotland and Aberdeenshire Council for information centres falling into ‘category 2’, while Aberdeenshire Council would provide 100% of the funding for ‘category 3’ centres and VisitScotland provided 100% for those identified as being ‘category 1’.
‘Category 1’ centres were identified as receiving more or all general Scotland enquires, whilst ‘category 3’ centres, predominantly, have a local economic benefit. ‘Category 2’ centres were a blend of both.
Under the three year plan, it was proposed that some of the locations move to providing their information service through a partner.
“This [a partnership] has been a successful approach used in a number of other regions of Scotland,” the report says.
Recommendations for the sites included in the three year plan could see staffing levels reduced across a number of information centres and partnerships formed with local businesses.
The Fraserburgh information centre, a ‘category 3’ centre, which saw a footfall of 3940 from April to November, 2012, down 10% from the 2011 figures, was proposed to move to a partnership in year two of the plan, 2013/14.
Elsewhere, it was proposed that Ballater, which was ranked first in the football table with 26963 persons visiting the centre, down just 0.4% from last year’s figures, reduce staffing levels in the first year of the plan.
It was also proposed that Alford co-locate with the Transport Museum in the first year before reducing staffing levels in the second to “reflect business demands” before partnering with the museum in the final year of the plan.
In total, four information centres could see staffing reductions, whilst two could lo-locate. Three were proposed to move to partnership.
The report says: “‘Co-location’ could either be relocating a VisitScotland Information Centre and VisitScotland staff into premises with like minded business thereby reducing operation costs for both organisations or alternatively, where space allows, a like minded business could share the existing VIC premises and facilities with VisitScotland. In a co-location VisitScotland staff would offer the full range of services.”
“A Partnership is a like minded Business which is strategically located providing basic information at localised level, operating in Partnership with VisitScotland with a Service Level Agreement. These will refer to visitscotland.com to the nearest VIC for additional services and information,” the report said.
Have your say on these proposals by contacting the Fraserburgh Herald at firstname.lastname@example.org.