Volunteer ‘army’ needed for TIC

PUBLISHED: 11:55 09 June 2014

A view of the Strand Gardens in Exmouth. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 5031-16-11SH

A view of the Strand Gardens in Exmouth. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 5031-16-11SH

Archant

An ‘army of volunteers’ is desperately needed to staff Exmouth’s new Tourist Information Centre, which could open in August.

A prefab ‘beach hut’, measuring 12ft by 12ft, is on order and will be placed in the Strand Gardens.

The earmarked site faces Moore’s Newsagents and TSB, and the building could be in place next month.

Town councillors rushed through rubberstamping £25,000 last week in a bid to set-up the service before the holiday season gets into full swing.

Desperate to ensure that tourists have a one-stop information shop during a summer which culminates in The Tour of Britain, the chamber of commerce, the town team and Stuart Line Cruises have all pledged to help.

Most of the cash comes from a £20,000 district council ‘development’ grant with the rest from the town hall and town team with the chamber furnishing the ‘hut’ and Stuart Line helping with marketing.

The TIC will be staffed by one paid tourism professional, backed by volunteers who will ‘meet and greet’ visitors in the town.

This will give the town hall time to train volunteers for next year.

It all follows the closure of the TIC in Travelworld last November.

At the last finance meeting, Mayor Bill Nash said: “A beach hut gives the wrong impression… this is going to be a sizeable building, sufficient for a desk, chair, literature, display stands and so on.”

Councillor Trevor Cope said: “Is this going to be one of those bottomless pits?

“We are trying to do something for this year and it’s the end of May. It’s insane.

“We should have been discussing this in February.”

Chairman of the finance committee David Chapman said: “We want to grow volunteers through the summer to protect the excessive use of our town staff…

“Counter enquires are coming in thick and fast while they are trying to do their ordinary work.

“I would say it is necessary to be quick…”

He added: “We already have two volunteers and this will be here for years to come.”

Ian Stuart, of Stuart Line Cruises, said: “There needs to be somewhere people can get information and ask questions. It needs to be done properly not just quickly.

“They are going to need an army of volunteers.”

Ian McQueen, chairman of Exmouth’s Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said: “The chamber is very pleased to be involved.

“We will do whatever we can to support the service in order to maximise the potential of one of Devon’s premier seaside resorts.”

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