Saturday, 4 April 2009

Outline proposals for tourism in Lincoln unveiled

The Tourist Information Centre on Castle Square, Lincoln will stay open if plans for the City of Lincoln Council to work in partnership with Lincoln Business Improvement Group (BIG) to provide services are approved.

Negotiations about increasing the subscription given by the City Council to Lincoln BIG have taken place in recent days. As part of the plans, Lincoln BIG would take over the management of the Tourist Information Centre to provide a face-to-face tourism service in the city.

The decision is still subject to Executive approval and consultation with affected staff. If approved, plans would mean:

The City Council would enhance its annual subscription to Lincoln BIG.
Lincoln BIG would operate the Tourist Information Centre in uphill Lincoln.
Four full time posts would be retained.
Lincoln BIG would look at generating further income through its provision of tourist information, which could then be invested into the tourism service.

The agreement comes after an extensive review of the council’s Tourism, Marketing and Arts Service. The Executive recommended the closure of both Tourist Information Centres from September 2009 as part of the council’s need to reduce its annual budget by £2.5 million.

Following the decision, Councillor Darren Grice, Leader of the City of Lincoln Council extended a challenge to businesses in Lincoln to help provide a tourism service in the city, and he is delighted with the recent discussions.
Councillor Grice said:
"We’re still in the very early stages, but we have reached an agreement in principle that Lincoln BIG will take over the management of the centre on Castle Square, with the help of a grant from the City Council.

"The reaction to our decision to close the Tourist Information Centres was phenomenal, but the savings target was fundamental to that decision and it was imperative that we met that target for the future sustainability of the council.

"This option means we can still make the necessary savings, whilst retaining the Tourist Information Centre that people feel is most needed. The fine details of how this will work are yet to be drawn up, but this is an excellent opportunity to provide a top quality tourism service. I am overjoyed that we have made such progress and hope that residents, visitors and businesses will reap the benefits.
Ursula Lidbetter, Chair of Lincoln Business Improvement Group added:
"We are pleased that we have been able to reach an agreement in principle with the City of Lincoln Council for Lincoln BIG to take on the operation of a customer facing Tourist Information Centre on Castle Square.

"Lincoln BIG is funded by business ratepayers in the city centre and this agreement fits well with the other things that we do to improve peoples' experience of the city centre. It will safeguard the future of our warden scheme and compliment the work we are doing to create a wireless information network across the city centre.
Everyone has a role to play as ambassadors for Lincoln and we don't see this as just providing an information centre, but as the Tourist Information Centre acting as the focal point for over 600 information provisions in the city.

"We have ensured that this is an additional benefit but at no additional cost to our members. It will generate commercial revenues using the expertise of our members, better integrate events and information provision and the web and give the businesses more say in the operation and standard of tourist information in the city."

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