Tourism info could be one touch away

TOURISM touchscreens could be installed around Bognor Regis.

The modern technology is being considered to increase the availability of information to visitors about the town and its surrounding area.

Officers at Arun District Council are looking at the terminals as one way of providing the facts at weekends and on bank holidays.

Margaret Murphy, the council’s tourism development officer, told councillors three of the terminals launched in Arundel last summer in shops and cafes had proved a success.

“The company who provided them could deliver them in Bognor in two or three weeks, if they are of the same style, after we have identified the locations,” she said.

“If we want something to go outside, then it would need to be anti-vandal and suitable for all weathers and would cost more.”

Suitable locations for the touchscreens with their links to tourism websites around Bognor could be the library, the railway station, accommodation providers and shops.

The council’s leisure, tourism and infrastructure working party welcomed the initiative at its meeting last Wednesday.

Members viewed it as a sensible way to provide a service when Bognor’s visitor information point on the Place St Maur was closed.

The service has been run by the Bognor Regis Observer for the past 18 months and maintains the newspaper’s weekday opening hours from its previous office.

Leaflet racks are also provided in the Regis Centre and neighbouring shop and cafe to increase their availability.

Mrs Murphy said some 21,665 customers had visited the premises from November 2011 to last September. This compared favourably to previous years when the council ran it as a dedicated service for visitors. About a third of the visitors were for the newspaper.

Initial negative comments, mainly about the loss of coach ticket booking facilities, seemed to have been overcome, she said.

Working party chairman Dr James Walsh (Lib Dem, Beach) said providing information at weekends was important.

“The closure of the visitor information point on weekends clearly flies in the face of it being an information point. Those are the days when you might expect the greatest number of visitors.”

Cllr Emma Neno (Con, Beach) said the touchscreens should be installed quickly. “Time is of the essence. We are already at Easter now. Soon enough, it will be the season,” she said.

“But this is good news overall because we have saved money and the service has been kept going.”

Committee vice chairman Paul Bicknell Paul Dendle, an Arun cabinet member, said the increasing use of smartphones meant many people could easily find out about tourism on the move at any time.

“The whole point of the ‘visitor information centre light’ as it was called was that people would use it to pick up a brochure but would get a lot more information using their phones,” he said.