Old Gaol tourist office outperforms Aylesbury

Cllr Robin Stuchbury, left and Cllr Mike Smith at Buckingham Tourist Information Centre.'130328M-C256
Cllr Robin Stuchbury, left and Cllr Mike Smith at Buckingham Tourist Information Centre.'130328M-C256

Buckingham’s Tourist Information Centre, at the Old Gaol, which is funded by Buckingham Town Council, serves more visitors than the Tourist Information Centre in Aylesbury, funded by Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC).

Over a 10-month period from April 2012 to January 2013, Buckingham’s tourist office handled 32,198 visitor enquires, compared to Aylesbury’s 20,772.

The figures, from Tourism South East, include enquiries made in person, by phone, letter and email.

Now Buckingham Town Council’s town centre and events committee is suggesting AVDC should consider helping fund the town’s successful office again.

The Old Gaol Tourist Information Centre was funded by AVDC until 2010, when it withdrew its funding.

Since then, Buckingham Town Council has picked up the annual bill of £25,000 to staff the office.

It contracts out the service to Tourism South East.

The office is provided by the Old Gaol Trust.

Chairman of the town centre and event committee, Robin Stuchbury, said: “When we first had to take it over, we were told the reason was because most of the tourist information is delivered through Aylesbury.

“These figures actually prove Buckingham is the hub.

“Aylesbury should be thinking again about giving financial support to the Tourist Information Centre in Buckingham. The figures show it warrants the investment.

“We’ve proved we were right to save it. We’ve not only saved it, we’ve out-performed Aylesbury.

“This shows our staff at the Tourist Information Centre are doing a good job.

“That’s 35,000 people a year we have coming in because we kept it open.

“We’re really punching above our weight here.

“By doing this, we’re supporting jobs at Stowe and other tourist destinations in the area.

“Buckingham residents are paying for our Tourist Information Centre and they’re also paying towards the cost of the Aylesbury Tourist Information Centre through their council tax.

“That’s why we think AVDC should think again about funding it.”

AVDC’s community development manager, Phil Black, said: “It would be unfair to compare the figures for the towns on a like-for-like basis as the Buckingham Tourist Information Centre statistics include visitors to the Old Gaol museum.”

But secretary to the Old Gaol Trust, Mike Smith, said: “The tourist office doesn’t handle admissions to the museum. These are handled separately by trust volunteers in a separate office.”