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Tourist information offices replaced by online research and social media

Tech-savvy tourists

The Wales Tourism Alliance (WTA) claims tourist information offices in the country could soon be replaced by online resources, reports the BBC. Rural county Powys has already reduced the number of offices from 14 to one; now Monmouthshire doubts the future of its information centres, which use up half the annual tourism budget. Although visitor numbers to the centres have dropped, tourist numbers in general have not.

Meanwhile, hits on the county's tourism website increased from 2.6 million to 8.9 million in a year. WTA chairman Chris Osborne said: "Now, a significant number of people undertake their own research using the internet. So, having made their own travelling and accommodation arrangements to get to the location, there is a question mark about the function of the tourist information centre."

Tourism goes online

The tourist information office could soon be a thing of the past. Here are five of the most influential online tourist resources that could soon replace them:

The online tourist board: VisitBritain, a multimedia site with information and ideas for all parts of Britain, was set up by the UK tourism board in 2003.

Social media: Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are renowned for allowing organisations and businesses to engage with consumers on a more personal level.

Review sites: Word-of-mouth has gone digital, as holiday review sites like TripAdvisor allow travellers to share recommendations and advice.

Mobile technology: Travellers can now download a map or city guide direct to their mobile, and combine it with GPS to find out which tourist attractions and hotels are nearby.

Websites: Never underestimate the importance of your company website, which can be a great way to attract and inform new customers, or even allow online booking. The importance of an online presence has been recognised within the sector, with accolades such as the Caterersearch Web Awards rewarding good use of social media, well-designed websites, and online marketing.

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