Posted: Sat 2nd Apr 2016

Focus On Tourism Information Online In Future /
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Apr 2nd, 2016

Visits to the official destination Swansea Bay website are soaring. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Statistics show activity on from January to the end of March is up 35% from the same period last year. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The website has enjoyed a great start to 2016, with more than 411,000 page views and 107,000 sessions in three months. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Last year, the official destination website attracted over 1.9 million page views, helping build Visit Swansea Bay’s Facebook and Twitter following to almost 60,000. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The figures come as Swansea Council takes a more cost-effective, online approach to the provision of information for visitors. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Tourist Information Centre on Plymouth Street will be closing on April 15, as the council looks to tackle a major budget deficit, while continuing to provide services in different ways. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The TIC, located at the rear of Wilkinson, has a range of souvenirs, maps, books and cards, which are all currently being offered for sale at reduced prices until the centre closes. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Frances Jenkins, Swansea Council’s Strategic Manager for Culture, Tourism, Marketing and Events, said: “The internet has changed the way visitors request and receive their holiday destination information, so we have been responding over the last few years by transforming our visitor information services to meet these changing customer demands and expectations. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“As a council, we have to make £80m of savings in the next few years and prioritise services like social care and education, but we will continue to provide visitor information both on and offline. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“In addition, we’ll also be exploring new and innovative ways of providing face-to-face information for visitors by working closely with our local marketing partners. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“The Tourist Information Centre has played an important role in establishing Swansea Bay as a key visitor destination over the years. Like many other TICs, it used to be responsible for delivering many tourism support services, including brochure distribution and bed bookings, but these traditional functions have now moved away from TICs as customer demands and expectations have shifted more to online platforms. This means face-to-face visitor enquiries at the TIC have declined. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“The TIC forms part of Cultural Services within the Council which, like many other services, has been asked to review and plan for the potential of a 50% reduction in council subsidy. This is why we’ve sought expressions of interest from third parties who we hope will work in partnership us with at a number of attractions to help sustain the services, while contributing to the savings the council has to realise. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“It may prove at the end of this process that it’s not viable to reduce the budget in this way, or to commission other organisations to run services at reduced costs, but we won’t know until the review is complete and options have been considered. This process will take at least another year to complete, and any options that may emerge will involve a significant amount of consultation.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

A number of organisations have already expressed their interest in potentially working in partnership with the council in the future, at attractions including the museum service, Plantasia and community leisure centres. The council will be reviewing each expression of interest in line with its procurement policy over coming months. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The council is also now reviewing the viability of short-term proposals it’s received from a number of organisations interested in running some of the city’s seasonal, outdoor attractions from May till the end of the year. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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