Cotswolds chosen as pilot for new mobile phone software
A NEW mobile phone tourist guide for the Cotswolds is being launched to take it into the "digital age".
But traditional tourist information centres – already hit by local authority funding cuts – fear it may be unwanted competition.
Norfolk-based specialists Pocket Places have targeted the Cotswolds to pilot a new national series of software phone apps.
The aim is to give the user an instant snapshot and maps of areas including Cirencester, Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water, places to stay and top attractions from historic houses and museums to farm parks. Jackie Faulkner, manager of Bourton Visitor Information Centre said: "It is going to be something that may affect us.
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"But I don't think any more than what people can look up on the internet now. I know the app is more mobile but most people we know prefer a face-to-face service.
"They've used the internet to get initial information but once they're here they come in for more details."
Pocket Places app developer Mark Oakden said his innovation had many advantages but stressed he was not trying to replace personal customer service or paper leaflets but offer a complementary service.
"We've taken the tried and tested method of a tourist map and guide book, and turned it into a mobile phone application which provides a wealth of useful information in the palm of your hand," he said. "We believe it's the first mobile phone app of its kind for the Cotswolds.
"Because the information is available offline, it's ideal for an area such as the Cotswolds where mobile signals can be intermittent.
"Apps are also living things which can be constantly updated by hotels and attractions, whereas paper leaflets often produced before the actual tourist season will be rigid.
"But there will always be a place for paper leaflets and we're more than happy to work with and promote the tourist centres. There's a whole load of information they can give which the app can't."
Cotswold District Council says grants to TICs will be reduced over the next two years to zero in year three.