Recently, VisitScotland decided to move the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) from Fraserburgh town centre to the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses at the extreme edge of town.
Our town centre businesses do not receive subsidies from any source – they depend entirely on the number of customers crossing their doors, which protects the jobs of existing employees and, with more visitors, could create new ones. In moving the VIC away, VisitScotland damaged the trade for town centre businesses coming from the thousands of visitors who used the VIC.
VisitScotland is a quango and is publicly funded. The council also uses public money. Aberdeenshire Council is spending hundred of thousands of pounds to regenerate town centres, trying to bring more people into them. So the council is trying to bring potential customers in and yet VisitScotland has moved thousands out. VisitScotland has not helped our local economy – it has damaged it and, I believe, has not used public money wisely.
The Scottish Government has adopted the Town Centre First policy, which seeks to locate services in town centres wherever possible. And so I contacted the minister for tourism and told him what this quango had done and that that the local Community Council, Business Association, Aberdeenshire Council Area Committee all wanted the VIC to remain in the town centre.
I also sent him a petition from local people saying the same thing. He refused to intervene. So much for the Town Centre First policy commitment then. VisitScotland and the minister for tourism have indeed lost the plot.
(Cllr) Ian Tait
Fraserburgh and District Ward