Tory calls for ‘New Year resolution’ over Sunderland tourist office

Coun Peter Wood on Fawcett Street which is now the base for the Sunderland Tourist Information Service.
Coun Peter Wood on Fawcett Street which is now the base for the Sunderland Tourist Information Service.
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A VISITOR attraction could double up as an information point for tourists.

City centre councillor Peter Wood has renewed his campaign for visitors to the city to be given a better service.

The Tory group deputy leader believes Sunderland’s Museum and Winter Gardens would be the ideal base for a new tourist information centre (TIC).

The St Michael’s ward councillor said: “It really is time to do something about the city’s pathetic offering of tourist information since the closure of the former Fawcett Street centre two years ago.

“It would be a suitable New Year resolution for the city council.

“A ready-made opportunity is available on the doorstep – the Museum and Winter Gardens premises at the bottom of Burdon Road.

“The shop area there is large, light and airy, underused and already staffed.

“It would be straightforward to provide more tourist information – leaflets, brochures etc – to supplement what is available online.

“But will the council grasp the nettle? Past experience is not encouraging.”

Sunderland City Council refused to confirm whether the TIC would be moving or extending to the Museum and Winter Gardens.

Councillor John Kelly, portfolio holder for public health, wellness and culture, said: “Every year, thousands of people are attracted to Sunderland’s museum shows and major events.

“In 2013, the stadium concerts attracted more than 100,000 people, the Sunderland International Airshow had hundreds of thousands of people, and the Grayson Perry exhibition at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens also attracted more than 100,000 visitors. All these – and many other events – are popular and major crowd-pullers.

“While the city council has to make many tough spending decisions under the current budgetary constraints, it more than recognises how visitors from home and abroad can enjoy many great events and destinations here.

“And while many events are indeed free, visitors are also spenders who support local goods and services.

“Therefore, we are continually exploring ways and means of providing our many visitors with more information about what they can see and do when in Sunderland.”