North Devon Plus will stop funding seven centres as part of a new digital-led marketing strategy

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TOURIST Information Centres will no longer be funded by North Devon Plus as part of a major restructure of northern Devon’s tourism strategy.

Seven centres across the area, including Barnstaple and Ilfracombe, will have their funding cut as North Devon Plus refocuses its marketing activity on electronic delivery channels.

North Devon Plus marketing manager Laura Holt said the agency were ‘looking at the tourism strategy in a new way’, prioritising the ‘My Devon’ mobile application and the northdevon.com website over traditional print and face-to-face information centres.

Funding to the centres has been gradually cut in recent years, and Ms Holt added that it was unlikely any of North Devon’s centres would struggle to survive.

According to North Devon Plus, less than one percent of people use a TIC before visiting North Devon, while 23 per cent would look for a visitor information point while here.

Centres in Braunton and Combe Martin both operate out of museums, and other centres in the area could now be encouraged to follow the ‘co-location’ model.

North Devon Council’s Executive member for economic regeneration Cllr Malcolm Prowse said that the increased move towards the internet when accessing information was the main reason for re-shaping North Devon’s tourism strategy. He also maintained that traditional centres would remain an important source of information, saying: “We’re not walking away from them.”

Cllr Prowse and North Devon Plus chairman Andy Lobato said in a joint statement: “This week North Devon+ has written to all TICs explaining the changes and giving them details of the free support package that is now available to them.

“This includes IT support, specialist business advice, free web promotion and the opportunity to apply for grants to support any commercial ambitions they may have.

“North Devon+ hopes to meet with them all over the coming weeks to help them maximise delivery from the support provided.”

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