Getting the message out to Island visitors

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VisitScotland has revealed a dynamic strategy to address the way visitors access information.

With a 58% drop in footfall to Information Centres in the past 12 years and two out of three visitors accessing information online, a radical approach is being introduced to ensure customer demands are met.

The strategy will see an increase in the way content is given on places to visit and stay, with a mix of partners, digital and iCentres being used.

In the Outer Hebrides, the location of the regional hub, will be made in consultation with the local tourism industry and stakeholders over the coming months.

In the meantime, sites located in Stornoway and Tarbert, Harris will continue to operate as normal.

These centres will be supported by almost 100 VisitScotland Information Partners (VIPs) in the Outer Hebrides including the Calanais Visitor Centre, Bernera Museum and the Castlebay Hotel.

The VisitScotland iCentres at Lochmaddy and Castlebay will cease trading at the end of October.

However, information provision will continue in all locations through partnership arrangements with local visitor attractions, businesses, tourism groups and local tourism experts.

Discussions are taking place with partners about continuing information provision at Castlebay and it is hoped that a new visitor service will be announced in the near future.

Around £10m is being invested by VisitScotland each year in digital activity and enhanced information services for visitors including investment in the 26 high impact regional travel hubs.

The remaining high impact 26 travel hubs will operate in locations of greatest visitor demand.

With so many relying on smartphones and tablets for information, a big focus of the strategy will be digital communications.

Annually, generates 20m sessions from over 13m users.

In the last 12 months, the redesigned has delivered 2.7m referrals worth a potential £560m to businesses.

Alan MacKenzie, VisitScotland Islands Manager, said: “The way visitors access information has changed significantly over the past decade.

“It’s time to switch our focus and investment into new and diverse initiatives to ensure we are reaching as many visitors to the Outer Hebrides as possible with the information they want, in the way they want it, when they want it.

“With three in four of adults now owning a smartphone, a key focus is ensuring our digital communications provide succinct inspirational and informational advice to visitors at every stage of their journey.

“However, we know that speaking to locals is also important to our visitors and with our 26 high footfall iCentres across the country, almost 100 Information Partners locally and our team of outreach staff travelling around the region, it means that there is always advice on what to see and do and where to go wherever people are.”