Published on : Friday, July 24, 2020
VisitScotland has announced its plan for the reopening of its 26 iCentres by the end of August following a four-month closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a phased approach which puts the safety of staff and visitors at the centre of the plan, the first four sites in Edinburgh, Balloch, Aviemore, and Jedburgh have opened today, Monday 20 July and Aberfoyle will follow on Tuesday 21 July.
The second phase will begin on Monday 27 July and will include 5 sites in Oban, St Andrews, Pitlochry, Portree and Ullapool. The remaining sites will be opened on a rolling basis throughout August.
The phased approach is due to the team at VisitScotland having to make internal changes to every one of the 26 iCentres to ensure that they are adapted for physical distancing, but also to continue to give visitors a warm welcome. There will be a range of safety features installed including Perspex screens, hand sanitisers and signage to ensure physical distancing with some dates possible to change on the dependence of materials and suppliers.
The reopened iCentres will initially only offer an information service to visitors with the hope of reintroducing ticketing, accommodation booking and retail as soon as safe to do so.
Throughout the lockdown, VisitScotland’s information service never really closed with iCentre staff delivering visitor information through a range of other channels including a new messenger service, an iCentre telephone and email service, as well as other customer channels.
Manuela Calchini, Head of Information at VisitScotland said: “Our iCentre staff have been working to get the centres reopened and are looking forward to being able to help visitors with face to face enquiries for the first time in four months. The information services never really closed however, and I’d like to pay tribute to the team for all its hard work in getting to this point.
“Our iCentres are a significant part of the community and we understand that there will be a desire to open them as soon as possible – we share that desire and want to support the tourism industry and communities as we come out of lockdown, however the safety of our staff and visitors is paramount.”
Visitor information from the national tourism organisation is delivered through a range of channels – from 20m people using visitscotland.com annually to two million customers using the iCentres. As with many businesses during this period, the team has adapted its ways of working with iCentre staff dealing with thousands of email and telephone enquiries since lockdown began and over 1800 accommodation bookings managed remotely.