At a meeting of the Town Council Policy Committee on Monday, November 21, probably the most significant item was the report and update from the Heritage Centre.
Since the closure of the Tourist Office, the Heritage Centre has become the main focal point where visitors can gain information about the town. Tourism worldwide, this year, has declined, possibly due to a combination of local conflicts as well as the continuing threat of terrorism and Rye has not been immune to this. Footfall at the Centre has fallen and therefore income has followed to the tune of around 8% (equating to approximately £9,700 of income). Some of this will be off-set by a savings policy designed to reduce expenditure by about £7,000.
The Centre is operated by a total of 5 part time staff with great efficiency and consequent high ratings on Trip Advisor. However, with the departure of the current management team at the end of March 2017, staff numbers will be reduced to just two. It will not be possible to operate properly at this staffing level and therefore it is essential that a development, recruitment and training plan is put in place to ensure a smooth transition from March 31. If this is not done in time, some student bookings – an important source of income – may have to be cancelled.
Despite the drop in numbers, the Centre is still a highly valuable visitor attraction and there is enormous potential to increase footfall and therefore revenue.
One major complaint was the existing road signage (the brown heritage signs). Rother District Council had promised to change these some 20 months ago, but so far, perhaps unsurprisingly, nothing has been done. This is something that maybe Rye’s own RDC councillors should follow up on.
Photo: Rye News Library
Image Credits: Rye News library .