I learned recently of the plans to close the VisitScotland office at Sumburgh Airport, and was interested to read the article on the subject in last week’s Shetland Times (17th November).
The powers that be in VisitScotland’s head office, in Edinburgh, obviously consider the 5,000 or so enquiries of so little importance that they will close the office due to “lack of use”. For such a small place as Sumburgh Airport to have had so many enquiries in a year is, in my opinion, quite an achievement, and who can say how those 5,000 visitors to Shetland could have been helped if the VisitScotland staff had not been there to assist them.
Once again Shetland’s unique position is completely disregarded in this obvious cost-cutting exercise. You can see from the attached photographs (see foot of article) how quiet the airport can be sometimes, which is not surprising, compared to how extremely busy it can be when planes are cancelled – as happened recently, when the concourse was packed with unhappy would-be-passengers seeking help and advice on finding they would have to stay in Shetland overnight – it was too late to take the bus to Lerwick to get on the ferry to Aberdeen by that time.
Airport check-in staff were occupied with rebooking passengers, issuing vouchers and so on, while dozens of people were assisted by the very informative and competent member of VisitScotland staff who dealt with baggage reclaim, bus timetables, accommodation, taxis, and so on.
If the VisitScotland staff had not been there on the day I recorded, there was no-one from any other organisation to help calm down, assure and direct those passengers.
If VisitScotland have given up trying to help passengers to and from Shetland, maybe we need our own Visit Shetland or Promote Shetland company to take over this very necessary job.