The Oxford Visitor Information Centre (VIC) on Broad Street will remain closed permanently, due to its financial support being withdrawn by Oxford City Council, Experience Oxfordshire has announced today.
The information centre welcomes over 500,000 visitors a year and deals with an additional 200,000 email and telephone enquiries. It supports local businesses and partners and helps to ensure that visitors can make the most of their time in the city and county.
“Oxford should be investing in welcoming visitors and we do hope the Council will review this in the future”
“Experience Oxfordshire took on the operation when the centre was making substantial losses, which it has managed to reduce significantly over the years through offering retail and ticketing services for visitors,” Experience Oxfordshire’s Hayley Spore said.
So what’s been the problem and where will our tourists go now to find out information on what to see and do in Oxford? “Only 1 in 6 visitors that come into the centre make a financial transaction, most just to ask for information. There is a cost to providing this service in operational and staffing terms, a cost that was previously totally funded by the City Council,” Hayley added.
“With lower visitor numbers anticipated in the city and the necessary social distancing requirements, the information centre would be operating at a predicted volume of between 15%-40% of its usual footfall which puts further financial pressures on the overall business,” she said.
“Oxford Visitor Information Centre provides a vital service and supports many local businesses. We are extremely disappointed to see its closure.”
Experience Oxfordshire had approached public sector stakeholders for additional funding to be able to continue the service. However “all organisations are working in a challenging environment currently, so it has not been possible to secure this.”
Speaking about the closure, Chief Executive of Experience Oxfordshire Hayley Beer-Gamage, said: “It is with a heavy heart that the decision has been made to close Oxford Visitor Information Centre. It provides a vital service and supports many local businesses. We are extremely disappointed to see its closure.”
Christopher Wigg, Board Director of Experience Oxfordshire and Chair of the Finance and Resources Committee commented: “We are extremely disappointed that the City Council have taken the decision to no longer support Experience Oxfordshire and that the immediate result of this is the closure of the Visitor Information Centre.
“It is simply not viable to operate an information centre without public sector subsidy and there is no information centre in the country that operates without a level of public sector support.
“Oxford should be investing in welcoming visitors and we do hope the Council will review this in the future and Experience Oxfordshire will be able to work with them again.”
We have approached Oxford City Council for a comment and await their response.