LOCAL businesses are being told that the new Dorchester Tourist Information Centre will offer much the same service as it always did.
Staff are preparing this week for the move from the existing centre on the corner of Trinity Street and Antelope Walk to the town’s library.
A service counter and shelving has been brought into the library with items from the existing centre being transferred across for the opening of the new facility on Saturday, April 1st.
But while tourist information being offered might be much the same as before, there will be fewer staff and no space for the sale of local goods, souvenirs and crafts. West Dorset District Council estimates that the move will save £80,000 a year in ongoing costs.
There have been concerns that visitors will have trouble finding the new centre, tucked away in the car park by the district council offices, rather than in the main town centre.
But assurances have been given this week that there will be new direction signs and the Dorchester BID’s community champions are being briefed to tell visitors where they can find the centre.
Because the service is located within the library, visitors arriving on Wednesday, market day, will find that the tourist information will be closed at 1pm, although on other days will keep normal office hours, including Saturdays.
The move comes despite a campaign which collected thousands of signatures against the change and was opposed by many businesses, especially those involved in the local tourist trade.
Services for local residents such as travel and ticketing for local events will continue at the new centre, although some organisations have already switched to other outlets because of the uncertainty over the TIC’s future.
Tickets for this year’s Beerex were not sold by the TIC this year, the first time since the event began.
The new information service will occupy roughly half the floor space of the old building.
The number of staff is also being reduced – from a part-time manager, full-time assistant manager and six part-time assistant to one supervisor and five part-time assistants.