As Bath emerges from COVID-19 lockdown, it is with sadness that Visit Bath have announced the permanent closure of Bath Visitor Information Centre.
The centre closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and despite now technically being able to reopen, the cost of operation, the impact of social distancing requirements to keep staff and customers safe, and the absence of many international markets has meant that the Visitor Information Centre is no longer economically viable to operate. Despite being busy, the service had been losing money consistently and had been operating at a loss for a number of years. With the tourism economy predicted to take at least four years to return to pre-COVID levels, the additional financial risk involved in opening the VIC with lower visitor numbers anticipated in the short- to medium-term would put further huge financial pressures on the overall business.
Opening in its current location in 2017, the VIC had provided leaflets and information to visitors, selling a small range of souvenirs and tickets for local tours and attractions, as well as being home to Bath Box Office.
Visit Bath will now focus on marketing and developing business for the tourism economy, both with consumer and trade activity planned to maximise future visits. This will include development of digital campaigns, media visits and engagement with international travel trade. This work will continue while the development of the new regional partnership is ongoing.
We will also be continuing our work for Christmas, with an exciting programme of events being planned for the city.
Bath is the latest of heritage city to have to close its Visitor Information Centre, with Oxford announcing its VIC closure in June, and other destinations are understood to be currently reviewing services.
Speaking on the closure, Kathryn Davis, Chief Executive of Visit Bath said: “It was a very difficult decision to close the Visitor Information Centre, however, had we not done so, the impact on the whole business could have been devastating. It is particularly heartbreaking to lose the staff who have had years of experience welcoming visitors to Bath, providing a professional service. Sadly, with the cost of operation being so much higher than the income generated, we have had no choice but to close the service permanently. Other options to continue the service were explored, but we have not been able to find a solution in the necessary timeframe.”
Discussions are ongoing regarding Bath Box Office. and an update will be provided as soon as possible.