OXFORD’S visitor information centre is likely to close if council leaders insist on a package of funding cuts, the city’s tourism supremo has warned.

The council has agreed to scrap the grant to Experience Oxfordshire, the destination management organisation running the visitor information centre in Broad Street.

Hayley Beer-Gamage, CEO of Experience Oxfordshire, warned the centre was likely to close if the local authority did not reconsider.

The Oxford Times:

She said: “We have eight million visitors a year and 500,000 of them come through our door in Broad Street.

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“I would urge the council not to cut its funding completely - if that happens the likelihood is we will have to close the centre, unless we can agree an alternative.”

The Oxford Times:

The Labour-run council cut the £173,000 annual grant by £20,000 in April, then it will be reduced by a further £25,000 in 2020, with no grant given from the following year onwards.

The council owns the TIC building and subsidises the rent. The lease runs out in 2021.

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Experience Oxfordshire receives financial backing from private sector organisations but Ms Beer-Gamage said the DMO was meant to be run as a public-private sector partnership.

The city council has suggested the tourist information centre could be run from the town hall in St Aldate’s as part of the City of Oxford Museum revamp.

The Oxford Times:

But Ms Beer-Gamage questioned whether the town hall would be an ideal location.

She added: “I think Broad Street is a better location and by taking away the visitor information centre you take the heart out of it. We would be happy to discuss any proposal the council puts forward.”

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A spokesman for the city council said: “The city council is the only local authority in Oxfordshire to have subsidised Experience Oxfordshire continuously since it was founded – despite it being a countywide body – and we have provided them with a rent-free building in Broad Street.

The Oxford Times:

“Our subsidy was intended to help establish Experience Oxfordshire, and give it the time to move to a model where the businesses across Oxfordshire that benefit from tourism – particularly the large attractions – contribute.

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"We have been working with Experience Oxfordshire to find them alternative accommodation in Oxford, should they decide to leave Broad Street.”