Outer Hebrides Tourism has worked with VisitScotland on a new approach to strengthen visitor information availability in the Outer Hebrides. This season sees the provision of a wide range of easily accessible options to obtain information about the local area.

The approach recognises both the changing ways visitors seek information and the unique nature and geography of the islands.

The former iCentre in Tarbert in Harris is now home to retailer, Essence of Harris, and the former iCentre in Lochboisdale (pictured above) is home to Uist Gifts and Information.

These have joined with six other island businesses to form a network of eight “Welcome Points” for visitors, providing local expertise and knowledge. The network runs from Sporsnis, in the north of Lewis, to Vatersay Hall in the south.

All Welcome Points have received display kits – including maps, noticeboards and leaflet racks – and will have free Wi-Fi available to visitors. Staff have also benefitted from dedicated customer service training.

VisitScotland has recruited an iKnow Support Assistant, based on Uist, who will support the Welcome Points. The Welcome Points are a new addition to VisitScotland’s national network of iKnow Partners (formerly known as the VIP programme), which includes more than 100 in the Outer Hebrides.

The iKnow Partners are a mixture of individual attractions, accommodation providers and restaurants which provide local expertise and information for visitors.

The Welcome Points are:

Spòrsnis, Ness, Lewis (end of Hebridean Way)
Essence of Harris, Tarbert, Harris
Borrisdale Tweed, Leverburgh, Harris
Claddach Kirkibost Centre, North Uist
MacGillivrays Souvenir and Gift Shop, Balivanich, Benbecula
Uists Gifts and Information, Lochboisdale, South Uist
Buth Bharraigh, Castlebay, Barra
Vatersay Hall, Vatersay (start of Hebridean Way)

The introduction of Welcome Points is part of a broader range of information available to visitors.and Outer Hebrides Tourism have created “Pit Stops” – a selection of accommodation providers, shops, cafes, visitor centres and bike transfer companies – to support visitors attempting the Hebridean Way on foot or by bike, where they can rest and refuel, as well as plan the next step of their journey.

VisitScotland is currently looking to enhance the information provision at the Stornoway iCentre and there is a higher profile of the Outer Hebrides in mainland VisitScotland iCentres such as Ullapool, Oban, Portree and Inverness.