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Letter: Tourist Office Future Should Be Based On Facts Not Opinions

Published on: 28 May, 2022
Updated on: 28 May, 2022

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

From: Gavin Morgan

founder of the Guildford History Forum

In response to: Borough Council Favours Moving Guildford’s Tourist Information Online

The article on the future of the TIC (Tourist Information Centre) raised some alarm bells for me. We must all respect the fact that cuts need to be made but that does not mean services should be slashed left, right, and centre with no intelligent debate.

I am pleased to say that councillors at the Service Delivery Executive Advisory Board on  May 19 felt the same. Thanks to their probing questions the lack of information was quickly revealed.

The claim that closing the office would result in a £70-80,000 saving was just an initial guess. They were told that no information was available on visitor numbers to TIC but Cllr John Redpath pointed out there was a counter on the door.

The argument for closure was supported by the fact that other towns are closing their TICs, the claim that people prefer to use online services, and that Guildford needs to “modernise” its offer.

All of this might be true but it is also woolly. The key questions that no one could answer were what is the value of the TIC to Guildford specifically, who uses it and how, what are the actual costs?

It was pointed out by several councillors that Winchester has gone the other way and invested in its TIC. More work is needed to understand the options available to Guildford.

Thankfully, the overall conclusion of the meeting was that the future of the TIC should be considered in connection with a review of the heritage services to get a holistic view. The question is, will the council as a whole listen or will it bulldoze these cuts through with little intelligent debate?

It will be said that this was an early debate by an advisory committee with no powers and that it was only testing opinion. But it was quite obvious to me that insufficient work had been done to tackle the problem.

It was similar lazy working that resulted in the closure of Burchatts Farm Barn as a community resource using financial arguments that did not stack up.

We must watch this issue carefully.

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test 4 Responses to Letter: Tourist Office Future Should Be Based On Facts Not Opinions

  1. Rosemary Morgan Reply

    May 28, 2022 at 6:47 pm

    Very well said, Gavin Morgan. I couldn’t agree more. I myself have used the Winchester TIC, and shop, which is extremely well located and sign posted, when I visited for the first time not long ago.

    I do wonder how people visiting Guildford manage, remembering my first visit here on a house hunting trip 30 years ago, when I couldn’t even identify the best town centre car park and found myself going round and round the gyratory! Wake up Guildford and put yourself in the shoes of visitors to our town from time to time.

  2. William Lawrence Reply

    May 28, 2022 at 9:30 pm

    Obviously the future of the service needs to be based on sound economic judgement. However, the continued use of Guildford House, a building that is inaccessible to so many is completely unacceptable.

  3. Sylvia Holdsworth Reply

    May 29, 2022 at 5:17 pm

    Why does William Lawrence say that the present building is inaccessible? It is no more difficult than anywhere else on the High Street. Hilly Guildford is full of ups and downs.

    The TIC is well signposted with extremely helpful staff answering everything from where to stay overnight to local events and Yvonne Arnaud productions. It is a little gem and an alternative online service is no help to the casual visitor on a day trip to the town. Not everyone wants to open a computer before they go somewhere.

    There are also some very nice items for sale in the shop. Until recently there was also an excellent cafe below. Its demise is a pity.

  4. James Gray Reply

    May 30, 2022 at 10:38 pm

    Good piece. Clearly GBC hasn’t considered this properly nor do they appear to have a strategy for the building should the TIC go online.

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