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Borough Council Favours Moving Guildford’s Tourist Information Online

Published on: 24 May, 2022
Updated on: 24 May, 2022

Guildford’s tourist information centre is housed in Guildford House in the High Street. Google Street View

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

The future of Guildford’s tourist information centre (TIC) is in doubt as councillors heard that providing an online service could save the council £70,000.

The TIC is currently housed in Guildford House Gallery, a Grade I listed townhouse and art gallery in Guildford High Street.

Its potential closure was discussed at a meeting of Guildford Borough Council’s service delivery executive advisory board on Thursday (May 19).

The meeting discussed initial ideas which will then be brought to the borough council’s Executive for a decision.

Council documents show that the most common requests at the tourist information centre are for bus timetables and maps.

Four options were presented to councillors, which ranged from maintaining the offer as it was to closing the centre and ending the offer completely.

The four options for the future of Guildford TIC presented to the Executive Advisory Board meeting. (click on image to enlarge)

The preferred option was closing the physical office and, instead, providing information online.

Councillors were told this “modernised, improved service” would deliver savings in the region of £70,000 and £80,000.

Documents said: “The physical presence in the High Street would be lost and there would be potential redundancy costs.”

Cllr George Potter

Cllr George Potter (Liberal Democrats, Burpham) said a decision had to be made on what would happen to the building.

He said: “It’s no good deciding to discontinue a service and then be sat around thinking: ‘Now what do we do with this building we’ve got left which is currently empty?’

“There needs to be a holistic look at all heritage assets in the town centre and the services provided from them to investigate the question of how best we can deliver value for money and how best we can deliver the savings.”

He said he would support more of an online offering but that there should also be some sort of physical availability, such as map dispensers and information given out at the Guildford Museum.

Ian Doyle, service delivery director at the borough council, said there were no lifts in the Guildford House building, and it needed modernising, but he said the staff there currently were “very knowledgeable”.

He added: “We are going to have to look at how we use that building better.”

A new information offer would look at working with organisations such as Visit Surrey and the town’s business improvement district, Experience Guildford.

Councillors were told that in 2019, tourism brought in £300million to Guildford.

The current tourist information centre provides information and advice to visitors to the borough and a gift shop, it used to also be a box office providing ticketing services for local events but no longer is.

One councillor told The Guildford Dragon that losing the TIC, a popular service, might be necessary to make further savings but more information should be obtained, particularly about the number of visitors there are at the TIC, before reaching a decision.

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test 6 Responses to Borough Council Favours Moving Guildford’s Tourist Information Online

  1. Mark Stamp Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    If many of the queries are public transport related, would it be sensible to combine it with a bus transport information offering as part of the new bus station development and share the costs of staffing with with SCC?

    • Keith Francis Reply

      May 27, 2022 at 10:21 pm

      The bus information office including a travel desk for issuing tickets at the bus station was, if I remember correctly, always run by a bus operator going back to Aldershot & District days and its successor companies. So apart from SCC providing its area bus timetables it had nothing to do with them.

      The different bus operators provided their timetables as publicity usually following the introduction of new services to our area, eg White Bus, but now some of the bus operators, due to cost, no longer publish paper timetables.

      I know of omissions in two SCC timetables and if you want to learn more about our bus services come along to the next North West Surrey Bus Users Group meeting at Addlestone on the June 11 2022. You can get there by bus from Guildford!

  2. Russell Morris Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 9:51 pm

    Closing public lavatories.

    Closing the tourist information office.

    Not difficult to see why Guildford doesn’t deserve city status.

  3. William Lawrence Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 9:52 pm

    Unfortunately, lovely as it is, Guildford House is redundant as a public building, specifically as it has no disabled access.

    A new home is needed for the gallery and I am sure GBC could find something suitable.

  4. Jim Allen Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 9:53 pm

    Perhaps some of the museum artefacts could be displayed there? They need better venues. There could be a voluntary ‘cough up box’ to help pay raise funds.

  5. Fumiko Ishiguro Reply

    May 28, 2022 at 10:10 pm

    The bus information office in the bus station closed during lockdown so it is no wonder people are asking in the tourist office.

    Every decent town, however small, has a tourist information office. It is a focal point where people can ask the questions you cannot online. Many are unable to search online. The tourist office is not just for visitors but for residents as well so that they can ask anything about what is happening. Human contact is invaluable.

    We seem to have forgotten that only as far back as December 2021, the Gallery Cafe in the same building closed, the owner saying the council made it too difficult for him to continue. There was talk of the council renting/selling the building, which a senior councillor denied in the press.

    Now the council are discussing getting rid of the tourist office. Are they trying to empty the building? The gift shop is still there. What do they propose to do with the historic Guildford House, part of Guildford’s heritage?

    If true, it seems disrespectful that the staff in the tourist office were not included or told of the proposal to make them redundant or about the meeting and only read about it here.

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