VOTE: Support is growing for visitor info centre

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We want a tourism help-point in Bognor, residents have demanded.

A survey carried out at the town’s threatened visitor information centre shows overwhelming support for the service to continue.

The results of the survey are being given to Arun District Council’s senior members on Monday.

But they are still expected to agree to shut the centre on the Place St Maur from September 1 to save money. They will seek to put in its place a ‘VIC Lite’ service to enable some information to remain available to those seeking help.

Users of the Bognor centre were the most vocal of three sites around the Arun district. They made up 248 of the 307 responses to the council.

Just over half of them – 58 per cent – were residents.

Jaqui Ball, the council’s head of strategy, partnership, and economic and cultural development, says in a report to councillors: “The three main reasons for visiting a VIC were: information on local attractions – 52 per cent; travel information – 41 per cent; and maps/guide books – 37 per cent. VICs would be missed as a source of information for visitors and local residents.

“Over half the respondents stated they would have no other way of getting the information should the VIC be no longer there.

“In the additional comments gathered, the most-mentioned aspect was the helpfulness and friendliness of VIC staff and that this would be missed.”

The centre’s staff deal with more 40,000 inquiries a year. It is being closed to save money.

But the need for a staffed information service was also stated at a tourism seminar hosted by the council at Fontwell last month to gain the views of those who work in the industry.

Best Western Beachcroft Hotel owner Robert Warham said: “Bognor needs a stronger PR profile to take advantage of the fact it is the sunniest place in the UK.

“The tourism officers at Arun do a good job but they do not have enough money to raise awareness of the town.

“The visitor information centre needs to come back as well. I hope it could be put with the watersports centre on the seafront if that gets the go-ahead.”

Is a tourism help-point essential for Bognor Regis? Cast your vote to the panel at the right of the screen or leave your comments below.