The Isle of Wight Visitor Information Centre opens to the public today (Thursday) after the official handing over of the keys by Jonathan Bacon, Leader of the Isle of Wight Council to Simon Dabell, Chairman of Visit Isle of Wight in a short ceremony yesterday.
The Visitor Information Centre will be open six days a week from Monday to Saturday, 10:30 to 15:30 (subject to change dependant on season and later on special event nights). VIOW Travel Ambassadors will be greeting visitors with a warm welcome and inspirational ideas to help them make the most of their stay.
Funded by Visit Isle of Wight and the IW Council through a successful grant application from central government, Phase One of the Guildhall project has involved the opening of the Visitor Information Centre and relocating Visit Isle of Wight from Osborne House to the centre of Newport. The total cost for this first phase of Guildhall work (excluding Travel Ambassador staff) has been approximately £20,000.
Visit Isle of Wight are currently in talks with the Isle of Wight Council to re-open the Island Museum. This involves a great deal of negotiation with collectors, the Council and volunteers, but it is hoped that the museum will open its doors before the end of 2015.
It is hoped that the project will be taken to a third phase that involves restoration and development of the whole of the Guildhall building to house a larger collection of Island treasures and create space that can be used for visiting exhibition galleries and other civic and community functions. This phase is likely to take up to three years and will be reliant on the Isle of Wight obtaining in excess of £4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
David Thornton, CEO of Visit Isle of Wight said:
“I am delighted that we have been able to open a new Visitor Information Centre here in the heart of Newport, and would like to thank everyone at the Isle of Wight Council as well as our Board partners for their support in making this happen.
“Today is only the beginning of a whole new chapter in promoting the Island and providing a world class service to our guests. There’s plenty more to come.”
Jonathan Bacon, Leader of the Isle of Wight Council said:
“The Isle of Wight Council is delighted to show its continued support to Visit Isle of Wight by providing the Guildhall property as part of our ongoing commitment to marketing the Isle of Wight as the UK’s Holiday Island.
“We are working with VIOW and the Museum group to reopen the Island Museum as soon as practical”.