TIC Report Highlights Changing Visitor Patterns

Tourist Information Centre in Hugh Town

Changing trends in tourism have been outlined in a report on TIC usage.

With the move to more self-catering accommodation, Sophie Hughes explained that there would be a further 2,900 bed spaces promoted in the brochure the next season. That adds to the 1,600 nightly spaces currently on the books.

Another changing tourism pattern was the increase in people coming over who haven’t booked accommodation.

The number of ‘walk ups’ rose by 5% and there are now around ten of these bookings made each week.

A report circulated to councillors pointed out that tourism was not a statutory function of the Council – they have no legal obligation to provide the service.

And within that report, the TIC has identified options for its ongoing development and financing. Businesses that benefit from bookings following walk-in enquiries don’t get charged commission currently. That could change.

The TIC could also increase their commission on boat ticket sales as 12% of all customer use is related to boating enquiries or purchasing passes.

The report also suggests the potential for an internet cafe function as well as business promotion, where an exhibition corner could be rented for one day a month to sell or promote produce or art.

A disability awareness guide could also be investigated and promoted to appeal to less mobile visitors.

And more work could be done to support cruise ships and encourage more businesses to open on Sundays when they visit.

Threats to the TIC service include the diminishing visitor numbers bringing less market demand. There are also concerns about the shortening of season and the use of mobile and internet technologies, which could replace some of their functions by providing virtual assistance.

After keeping a log, staff have worked out that most locals use the TIC to pick up the What’s On sheet. That accounts for 30% of business use with another 30% of interaction involving updating accommodation availability.

12% of visitors call in to pick up the What’s Ons and 13% call in for directions.

Boating enquiries account for a sizeable proportion of enquiries and 10% of questions concerned onward travel, such as whether planes are flying. Sophie says that’s been a growth area of enquiries.