TOWN councillors in Dorchester have reluctantly accepted that the county town’s tourist information service may have to close.

Councillor Alistair Chisholm said that since moving from the Antelope Walk site to the library, visitors have dropped from around 100,000 to 25,000 a year.

He says the situation has been made worse because the service point is based in the library and not open on Sundays or bank holidays.

Figures from Dorset Council, which pays for the service, suggest that most of the centre’s visitors are local; three-quarters of all callers coming in through the door, and a quarter of all of visits relating to ticket sales.

The centre costs £80,000 a year to run, mostly made up of staffing costs, and is now one of only three paid for by Dorset Council. The others are in Sherborne and Wareham.

Other TICs in the county are either run by volunteers, or in the case of Bridport and Swanage, by the town council.

Cllr Frances Hogwood told the Dorchester town council policy committee that she believed Dorset Council was looking to ‘dump’ the service but said the town might consider a volunteer-run tourist information office, which had worked well elsewhere.

Town walks guide and town councillor Alistair Chisholm said he would oppose offering information only online and believed there might be a mid-way position where costs could be cut and a better location found.

“Tourism is a people business and personal contact is highly important…I would accept you might be able to get volunteers but to get the quality of service they should be led by professionals,” he said.

Cllr Stella Jones said the ticket sales, which included events and bus trips, could be offered elsewhere in the town at one of the other tourist attractions, such as the Shire Hall.

Town clerk Adrian Stuart said he thought it likely Dorset Council will stop funding the service, but said the town council would not be able to offer the same service for less cost, should it take over.

The committee agreed that it was no longer reasonable to expect Dorset Council to completely support a tourist information centre in Dorchester, and have asked the town clerk to try and find a way to keep tourist information services in the town, producing a series of options.

Dorset Council is currently holding a public consultation, until November 29, about the future of its three centres, which costs around £200,000 a year between them.

In its consultation paper Dorset Council says that the way people get information about tourism and attractions has changed with most people now going straight to the internet. It points out that tourist information is a discretionary service.

The consultation can be found online at –