Volunteers urgently needed to man Marlborough’s new tourism centre
An urgent plea to help find twenty or more volunteers to man Marlborough’s new information and tourist centre went out to members of the town’s Chamber of Commerce at its annual meeting last week.
The centre, to be launched in what was the Mayor’s Parlour at Marlborough town hall, is being set up in the wake of Wiltshire Council’s shock decision to close its public library-based tourist information centre (TIC), leaving visitors to the town stranded.
A loan from the town council will enable Marlborough activist Val Compton and two former TIC staff to start again, but they will need the backing of volunteers to maintain a full service and the support of hotels, restaurants, pubs and shops to succeed.
Wiltshire currently spends £500,000 supporting the website Visit Wiltshire, which lists just one Marlborough hotel and one pub restaurant because its subscription charges are exorbitant compared to the modest fees to be charged by the new Marlborough TIC.
“This clearly was a crazy situation and it wasn’t difficult to see the knock on effect to our local economy,” Val told the town hall meeting. “Tourists need to feel valued, they want to meet and like to talk to someone who knows about local things.
“And, of course, there are still many who want to talk about the fact that ‘Kate Middleton woz ‘ere’ – as a student at Marlborough College.
“You may not be aware of what the TIC officers do for your business, because when customers arrive to find that folding chair, those walking sandals, the sun cream they forgot to buy, the instant BBQ kit and so forth, they don’t announce to you that the TIC told them where they would find the products.
“The value of a manned TIC, dispensing huge amounts of local knowledge, is really not recognised because it is almost impossible to quantify.”
And she added: “At this stage, although we might like to lash out at Wiltshire, there is no point and there certainly is no time. We need to form a connection with the Chamber of Commerce in order to harness your energy to go in into supporting this project.
“Right now, we are effectively starting a new business with no money. We have no cash to fund the stock at present. But I’m sure that somehow finance will appear – because I’m an irrepressible optimist.”
She appealed to members to think up ways of helping the new TIC and urged: “Spread the word that we are trying to plug the gaping hole that Wiltshire Council has left in this town.
“And please also find and send us volunteers because, without them, we are not going to survive the summer.”