Digitally transforming tourism informationPublished: 13/07/2021
Ashford Borough Council is changing the way tourism advice will be provided in the future, with a focus on providing the very latest guidance and information online.
The changes are a result of changing customer demands, with more information being sort via the ‘Experience Ashford and Tenterden’ website and social media channels and less on a face to face basis.
Given this digital shift and the fact that visits to the Ashford Gateway have been declining over a number of years, it is proposed that the Visitor Information Centre be closed. This will allow existing resources to focus on delivering visitor information services digitally and supporting new tourism marketing, business and development opportunities and initiatives.
Cllr Matthew Forest, portfolio holder for Culture, Tourism & Leisure, said: "The tourism industry is extremely valuable to the borough, and this sector has been quick to recognise the value of digital promotion and modern engagement platforms.
“In line with the other significant digital transformation projects taking place across the Council, it's right that we follow the industry's lead and embrace the same methods of promoting our vital tourism sector as it seeks to recover from the impact of the pandemic."
“Whether you want to find out information online, via email or the telephone, the team will be on hand to help visitors with their enquiries and the website has plenty of ideas on what to see, find, taste and try in the borough."
Officers have engaged with Kent County Council and will continue to work with them either to gain release from the current Gateway Partnership Agreement and /or agree a better future use of the space until the agreement expires in 2026.
Other possible uses for the space up are being considered, including an unstaffed visitor or general Council information point, a public consultation and exhibition area or for use by local community groups and partners.
Members of the Ashford and Tenterden Tourism Association have also been engaged on this proposal and understand the digital shift and refocus of existing resources is beneficial to ensure customer information is relevant, dynamic and up to date.