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Tourism

Volume 448: debated on Wednesday 28 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how many tourist information centres were (a) in operation, (b) opened and (c) closed in England in each year since 2000; (80273)

(2) how many tourists used information centres in England in each year since 2000;

(3) how much funding Tourism England committed to supporting tourist information centres in each year since 2000.

Most tourist information centres (TICs) are controlled by local authorities and not funded or managed centrally. The provision of tourism services by local authorities, including TICs, is a discretionary matter for them.

However, VisitBritain has recently conducted a consultation on a strategy for providing national leadership for the tourist information network in England. The proposals, put forward after extensive discussion with the National TIC Steering Group and regional partners, include a range of actions designed to increase efficiency and service standards; increase revenue opportunities; and ensure integration with the ‘Englandnet’ business support tool.

It is hoped that these actions will strengthen the TIC brand and allow VisitBritain to market the network in Britain and overseas.

Until March 2006, VisitBritain part-funded One NorthEast and the Yorkshire Tourist Board (YTB) to conduct co-ordination of the network. Between 2000 and 2003, this work was carried out by the regional tourist boards, led by the English Tourism Council. The costs of this work centrally were as follows:

£

2000-01

110,000

2001-02

100,000

2002-03

97,070

2003-04

56,500

2004-05

56,500

2005-06

56,500

Unfortunately, detailed annual records of the number of TICs and their visitor numbers are not held centrally. There were approximately 560 TICs in 2000 and there are about 514 now. YTB made a rough estimate in 2002 that around 75 million visits were made to England’s TICs. The acquisition of improved data on these matters is an important element of VisitBritain’s current proposals.