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Saturday, 20 December 2014

Ceremony marks relaunch of TIC saved from closure

SOUTH Lakeland’s flagship tourist information centre has been re-launched by the hospitality group that saved it from closure.

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RELAUNCH: The handover of Windermere Tourist Information Centre to the Lakes Hospitality Association. Japanese translator Sakiko Robson marking the handover with LHA operations director Mark Prada, chairman Jonathan Denby and centre manager Paul Jackson JON GRANGER REF: 50018364B000

The Lakes Hospitality Association held a launch day at Windermere Tourist Information yesterday to formally celebrate the centre’s transfer from South Lakeland District Council.

The TIC will now open seven days a week between 9.30am and 4.30pm – and for longer during the summer season.

It had been reduced to limited opening hours under the management of SLDC, which let it go to save money.

The LHA, which has relocated its main headquarters to the first floor of the TIC building, will run the centre with a combination of volunteers and paid workers.

Jonathan Denby, chairman of the LHA, which has 550 members, including hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs, said it was “the Big Society in action”.

Mr Denby said: “We believe very strongly indeed that TICs should be funded by the local authority, so we were very disappointed to learn the funding was going to be cut and eventually deceased.

“But this TIC is the most important one in the Lake District. We can have 60 people in this room at any one time and it gets 300,000 visitors a year. It’s so important because when people come here, they need to get their bearings and find out what’s going on.

“They like to see smiling, friendly, local faces who can give them guidance as to the best way to spend their precious few days away.”

Mr Denby said the TIC was in a key location near Windermere Railway Station, especially for Japanesevisitors who typically arrive by train.

He said: “They are the most important part of our trade in the Lakes. We want to make them feel welcome and to receive a big smile of the kind we would get in Japan.”

A Japanese-speaking member of staff will be on hand at all times. Sakiko Robson, who has applied for a job at the TIC, attended the launch, and said: “If people come to Windermere and Bowness, that’s the main spot to visit.

“But since I met my husband, he’s told me about some more secret places like Wrynose Pass and Muncaster Castle, which has a beautiful journey from here.”

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