A Scottish Parliament committee has been asked to investigate the closure of island
and rural tourist offices.
Visit Scotland’s decision to shut local tourist information centres such as in Castlebay,
Lochboisdale and Lochmaddy - has a greater impact than elsewhere, says the Western
The MP said the Castlebay centre had 17000 visitors in 2016 – 17 times the population
Lochmaddy saw 6,000 visitors, more than four times the number of residents.
With few other sources of information in these rural areas the effect on tourism
could be “substantial” he said.
Mr MacNeil added: “A 70 mile stretch of my constituency covering a number of Islands
will go from having three tourist information offices to having none.
“Visit Scotland appear to have decided to close tourist offices purely on the basis
of footfall without regard to the geography of the area or to the number of visitors
compared to the size of the resident population.”
In the Western Isles only offices in Tarbert and Stornoway remain open.
The closures are part of a strategy to cut 60% of VisitScotland information centres.
Some 39 of its 65 centres will close their doors over the next two years, starting
with the Western Isles.
VisitScotland said they experienced a 58% drop in footfall in the past 12 years,
saying two out of three visitors now access information online.
The organisation is consulting with the local tourism industry over the location
of a regional hub in the islands.
Holyrood committee asked to look into impact of tourist office closures