‘Far too many visitors don’tfind out about the real Berwick’
Berwick’s new visitor centre is there to complement rather than compete with other tourism services.
That was the message from owner Chris Hardie when he addressed Berwick Tourism Conference.
The new facility is having a ‘soft opening’ over the Easter period with further works planned to give visitors a fuller experience later in the season.
“I think far too many visitors come to the town and don’t find out about the real Berwick,” he said. “They see the high street and then decide to visit the many well promoted attractions round and about, such as Holy Island, Ford and Etal and Bamburgh.
“We need them to find the real Berwick, to get to the barracks, to find the walls. We need them to discover the quayside. They need to get down to Bridge Street, find the alleyways, all these sorts of things.”
The visitor centre, in the former methodist church on Walkergate, is a private initiative set up as a not-for-profit venture company.
“It will inform visitors about Berwick, the quirky bits, the real bits and where to go,” said Chris. “It will get them to enthuse about Berwick so when they leave after 20 minutes or so, we will send them on to other attractions in the town. The barracks will probably be one of the first ports of call because it’s only two or three minutes’ walk away; we’ll provide guidance to the walls, quayside, Bridge Street, cafés, restaurants, vintage shops – whatever it is that’s different about Berwick.
“We are there purely as a signposting area. We want to encourage visitors to spent the day and maybe even the next day in the town before they visit other locations. Our aim is to get visitors to enjoy their stay in the town.”
He added: “We will not be giving out leaflets from attractions outside the town so the TIC is still very much needed.”
He has recruited six staff who love the town.
Stephen Scott, secretary of Berwick Chamber of Trade, said: “I think the new visitor centre is a fantastic initiative and I applaud Chris for his enterprise in getting it off the ground.”
He also praised the nearby tourist information centre for its work marketing events and services and encouraged people to make the most of it.