Southampton could get a tourist information centre – but does it need one?

A TOURIST information centre could be re-instated in Southampton.

Civic chiefs have revealed they are targeting God’s House Tower, on Town Quay, as a possible location for the new facility.

City tourism bosses are currently in discussion with A Space Arts, who are currently in the process of converting the historic gatehouse into an art gallery.

That £2.4 million project is expected to formally begin next month.

And city council cabinet member for communities, culture and leisure, Satvir Kaur, hopes a new tourist information centre could be set up in the facility when the work is complete.

The Labour councillor is also expected to take a swipe at Conservative councillor Nigel Hecks at the meeting.

She has described the party as “incompetent” for bringing forward a motion about reinstating a tourist information centre, when the council is already working on plans.

Councillor Kaur said: “This motion highlights the incompetence of the Conservative opposition and a lack of understanding of what is already going on in the city.

“I announced at the last council meeting in September that we had launched a condition survey (into the city’s tourist attractions) – the first in decades.

“We are also working with partners about the possibility of a tourist information centre at God’s House Tower.

“If Councillor Hecks had just asked me or one of the council officers they could have found this out.”

Bosses at God’s House Tower have also admitted an early discussion has begun about the possibility of the art gallery hosting a tourist information centre.

However, A Space director, Dan Crow, said official talks are yet to take place.

He said: “We have talked about the possibility but we would need to have talks about what that would look like.

“We have talked about us having a help desk with some leaflets to some other attractions.”

If the plans come to fruition it will be the first time the city has had a dedicated tourist information centre in a number of years.

The desk was previously located in the Resource Centre in the Central Library and, prior to that, was located opposite Westquay.

Councillor Kaur is expected to give details about the plans at full council later today.

However, the plans to possibly reintroduce a tourist information centre in Southampton have been met with mixed reviews.

Conservative leader, Jeremy Moulton, said he didn’t feel one was necessary.

The Freemantle councillor said: “When tourists get here it’s too late. On the ships they are given the information in packs.

“You have got to make sure it’s online.

“People don’t usually go to tourist information places any more – they research a few words online.”

Southampton tourist guide Godfrey Collyer, who runs tour guide group, SEE Southampton, said: “Tourist information centres are a difficult one because many of the things in them are no longer needed.

“Most people book accommodation online. We need a different way now.

“It’s got to be about promoting the city and we want to them to stay in Southampton and do things in Southampton.”

Plans will be discussed at full council, due to take place at the Civic Centre from 2pm today.