WHAT are we supposed to do now after lack of key staff forced the council to close Weymouth’s Tourist Information Centre weeks ahead of schedule?
Why those staff didn’t feel like staying on until the Pavilion’s official closure on May 31st is beyond me.
Surely it couldn’t be disillusionement or that they felt redundancy was a poor reward for years of loyal service and I’m sure they weren’t influenced by having to pay to retrieve their own redundancy notices because the council hadn’t put enough stamps on the envelopes.
They no doubt fully accepted the council’s explanation that it was an unfortunate “administrative error”. After all, as council employees, they must have seen a few of those in their time.
No, what concerns me is that a town whose lifeblood is tourism no longer has a recognised point where visitors can go to find out about the area.
Various outlets and shops are being used for little information points to try and paper over the cracks and provide somewhere people can go to browse leaflets about attractions or find out about events, but what are they like? So I took a walk to see what there was.
My first port of call was Honest Bert’s, a new enterprise boasting TIC stickers which has been set up in the doorway of a deserted shop in St Mary Street just out of sight of the CCTV cameras.
There I met Honest Bert who was wearing a trilby, dark glasses and a long tan coat which he opened to show me an incredible array of genuine Rolex watches which he was offering for the very reasonable price of £5.99 each or two for a tenner.
I pointed out that he was displaying TIC stickers but there was no sign of any tourism leaflets never mind any obvious maps, guides or details of accommodation vacancies.
Warming to my theme, I accused him of being a fraud at which point his face assumed a hurt expression as he took me to one side. The explanation he then provided me with proved entirely acceptable, so I apologised and moved on. Apparently “TIC” stood for – Tickers Inside Coat which there clearly were.
Not wishing to be caught out again, I was a little more cautious when I saw more “TIC” stickers in a small butcher’s shop. Just as well. They apparently stood for “Tripe in Containers”.
By now I was so wary that when I saw yet more “TIC” stickers in the window of another business I didn’t ask a single question but tried to see if there were any leaflets on display or other tourism paraphernalia.
There were and I tentatively approached the owner and asked if he was one of the new tourism points I’d heard about.
He replied: “Course I bleeding am! D’you think all that over there is some sort of exotic new shopping display, well do you?”
I assured him I didn’t and that it was nice to see a business doing its bit to help keep tourism information going in Weymouth.
“Tourist information be damned!” he said. “I only did it because it was free and it was a nice boost for me business.”
With a sinking feeling I asked what was the name of his business and he replied: “Terry’s Ice-Creams.”
So if you are wandering round town and you happen to see a “TIC” sign be careful. It could be anything from genuine leaflets or simply a refreshment outlet offering “tea in cups”.