Herts Ad comment: St Albans tourists are left uninformed...

PUBLISHED: 21:00 01 August 2016

This week's Herts Ad comment...

This week's Herts Ad comment...


For a city that prides itself on its visitor economy, the diminished service apparently offering “information” to tourists is risible.

A nondescript, out of the way A-board points those tourists lucky enough to spot it towards the Alban Arena, where they will be greeted by a mediocre display of tatty pamphlets which are supposed to take the place of the once-thriving Tourist Information Centre.

Those Arena staff who are not busy answering booking enquiries or, you know, actually running a theatre, are unfortunately expected to be able to deliver comprehensive details of the city’s tourist attractions after probably no more than a few hours’ training, rather than the years of acquired knowledge boasted by their TIC predecessors.

For the council to dismiss many of the centre’s services as no longer valid “due to the growing popularity of the internet”, not only fails to appreciate that the internet has actually been around for decades, but does a disservice to the skills and expertise of the staff previously found working at the information centre.

Tourist information is more than handing out brochures and directing people towards the cathedral, it’s about acting as a living guidebook to the city’s rich history, promoting those hidden gems which aren’t immediately apparent, and representing St Albans to thousands of visitors from all across the world.

And that doesn’t even take into account the lost revenue from the books, souvenirs and gifts once on sale in the TIC, and also helping to promote the city beyond the district.

It’s all very well the district council spending millions of pounds on redeveloping the Town Hall Museum project as a showpiece jewel in the city’s crown, but if their inadequate provision during the 18 months of work isn’t rectified, they may find there are no tourists coming to visit when it is finally finished.

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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