Plans afoot to enhance town’s tourism

YOU ARE HERE: Tourists are currently directed to the Amelia Scott for information

WHILE tourism in Tunbridge Wells is booming and businesses have reported a return to pre-pandemic levels this summer (Times, August 9), both visitors and residents alike have been left a little disorientated, asking: “Where do we go?”

For those visitors who decide to take a train to our town, alight at the station and wander down the High Street to The Pantiles, they may find themselves a little lost if they follow the lone sign outside Framptons, indicating ‘Tourist Information’, but leading nowhere.

The sign is a relic of times past, before the ‘Tourism Office’ was relocated from The Pantiles to the Amelia Scott Centre in 2022.

Pat Pledger from Hamburg, Germany, told the Times of their battle to find the tourist information.

“I needed a Tunbridge Wells street map and thought the local Tourist Office might be able to help.

“I was directed to the Amelia Scott Centre, where I could not find anything resembling a Tourist Information Centre.

“Finally, I asked a lady in the library, who raked around in several drawers and produced a very small map, which she hoped would help me.

“I cannot believe that this is all that Tunbridge Wells can offer visitors.”

When Crowborough resident ‘Dr Fossil’ tried to call the tourism office, he encountered a switchboard that offered him limited help.

He said: “When I rang the advised number (01892 779570), I was told there was no one person heading it up, or even responsible for it.

“Why is there nobody to contact, and you are not even able to be connected to the Tourist Office?”

In 2021 (the latest available figures) there were 3.5 million visits to Tunbridge Wells, 57 per cent of which were specifically for a holiday, the majority being day trips. This valued the local tourism industry at almost £191.5million, creating over 4,500 jobs in the Borough.

Of the relocation of the Tourist Information Centre, Cllr Justine Rutland (Lib Dem) the Cabinet Member for Economic Development, including Tourism said: “[The office] was moved by the previous administration and although it’s not a like-for-like replacement for the Information Centre on The Pantiles, it was thought the Amelia would have more suitable facilities, more contact with staff, and [be] better economically.

“Staff are being trained to provide more information, but this is going to take time.

“The team has a teeny-tiny budget to work with… We have the website which is doing very well. Last year we had 339,000 visits, so people are looking at Tunbridge Wells…

“Hopefully, when finances allow, we can expand to have a Tunbridge Wells shop or Information Centre. Never say never.”

A spokesman for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) said the Council is working to increase tourism:

“In the Amelia Scott, information is available on the Visit Tunbridge Wells screen and from the customer advisors, who are happy to answer questions and provide leaflets on request.

“The Pantiles remains a place tourists want to visit. We have a range of tourism leaflets in the Corn Exchange, and we are working to set up enhanced Tourist Information Points at attractions and accommodation across the Borough.

TWBC said they are also working with the RTW Together Business Improvement District (BID) to provide more information to tourists.

Alex Green, Chief Executive Officer of BID told the Times: “We will be printing new map guides and trails for the town and will be installing leaflet display holders across town for our regular town guide, which includes activities in the town for the next few months, as well as comprehensive listings of venues.

“I’m also excited that our partner, Visit Tunbridge Wells, is in the process of updating and upgrading its website,” he explained.

“It will be working closely with the Amelia team to enhance its tourist information provision at one of the key tourist draws for the town, which should in turn help bring people to a key area of the town.”

For more information on tourism in the town,

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