Tourist information centre managers oversee services that promote the local area and provide information to both visitors and local residents

As a tourist information centre manager you'll provide information to visitors, as well as community, business and leisure customers, about the local area and will ensure resources are available to help them find the information they need. You will promote the local services available, including:

  • accommodation
  • amenities
  • events
  • leisure facilities
  • transport
  • visitor attractions.

You'll book accommodation, sell tickets for local events, order and sell gifts and souvenirs, run special events and generate marketing opportunities.

Your management duties will include the daily running of the centre, networking, staff management and recruitment, and ensuring targets are met.

Tourist information centres are also known as visitor information centres, so jobs may be advertised as visitor information centre manager.

Responsibilities

As a tourist information centre manager, you'll need to:

  • publicise the centre's services and implement marketing strategies to raise the profile of the centre, increase footfall and sales, and generate more income
  • control and monitor the centre's budget to make sure targets are met in the most cost-effective way
  • gather information on, and work with, local businesses and visitor attractions
  • buy merchandise and souvenirs for the tourist market to sell in the gift shop
  • ensure that staff keep the centre well-stocked with leaflets and posters about local events and attractions and that regular stock checks are undertaken
  • research and visit attractions and accommodation
  • keep up to date with changes in tourist activities and events
  • ensure the centre is well presented, organised, easy to use and accessible
  • plan and organise events
  • produce guides and other marketing literature
  • communicate information to members of the public and deal with enquiries in person and by post, email, social media and phone
  • operate accommodation and other booking services, selling tickets for travel and local events
  • prepare reports for senior management and attend meetings with senior managers and tourism businesses
  • manage the recruitment and training of staff
  • supervise staff and volunteers, working out staff rotas and cover for the centre.

Salary

  • Starting salaries for tourist information centre officers or assistants range from £14,000 to £18,000.
  • With experience and progressing to a supervisor level, you could earn up to £26,000.
  • If you're in a managerial role, you can expect to earn in the region of £25,000 to £35,000.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Some centres, for example, in towns and cities are open seven days a week year round, including bank holidays. In smaller places, however, centres may have reduced opening hours during the winter or be closed on certain days and only open, for example, at the weekend when people are more likely to visit.

You'll usually work a 37-hour week over a five-day period, often including weekends. Part-time, temporary or seasonal work is common.

What to expect

  • Tourist information centres exist in most cities and many towns and in rural areas of interest to tourists and visitors. They can also be found in libraries, ports, motorway services and airports.
  • As this is a public-facing role you'll be required to dress smartly, possibly even in uniform.
  • You can be very busy, particularly in the tourist season when you have to deal with a large number of enquiries.
  • Most travel in the working day is local, mainly to visit attractions, events and businesses.
  • You may need to travel to other centres to compare working practices and systems, and to attend conferences or trade events, which may be held anywhere in the UK. This could mean the occasional overnight absence from home.

Qualifications

You don't need a degree to become a tourist information centre manager. You could start as an assistant and, with experience, work your way up to the role of manager. You could also move across from another retail or customer-focused job.

Entry is possible with a degree in any subject but useful degree, HND or foundation subjects include:

  • archive and museum studies
  • business or management studies
  • geography
  • information technology
  • librarianship or information management
  • marketing
  • modern languages
  • politics, government or public administration
  • travel, tourism or leisure studies.

Personal qualities and proven business skills are seen as just as important for the role as academic qualifications.

Skills

You'll need to have:

  • excellent communication skills for dealing with customers and contacts in local businesses and visitor attractions
  • good interpersonal and management skills to lead a team of staff
  • a methodical, motivated and customer-focused approach to work
  • an enthusiastic, friendly and confident manner
  • problem-solving ability and negotiating skills to successfully run the centre
  • knowledge of the UK, especially the area where you're applying for work
  • IT skills to help with website development, social media, e-commerce and online booking
  • business or commercial awareness.

Language skills may also be useful.

Work experience

Pre-entry experience in the tourism, travel or leisure industry is important, especially in a busy front-line role dealing with the public. Part-time, and in some cases seasonal, opportunities are available in:

  • tourist information centres
  • local authority leisure departments
  • hotels
  • travel agencies
  • tour companies.

Experience in retail, marketing or the information sector (for example, in a library or museum) is also useful.

Some tourism-related degrees include an optional work placement year that can help you build up relevant experience. Getting involved with local groups or associations is also useful and shows your commitment to the area.

Many tourist information centre managers have had previous jobs in other related sectors and use the skills and experience they've built up to move into managing a tourist information centre.

Employers

The main employers of tourist information centre managers are local authorities, usually district, borough or city councils.

Other employers include:

  • national parks
  • wildlife trusts
  • water authorities
  • private tourist attractions
  • area tourism partnerships
  • the National Trust and the National Trust for Scotland
  • English Heritage
  • The Forestry Commission.

Funding for tourist information centres is no longer guaranteed and councils have had to make cutbacks in recent years. This, along with more people accessing information on the internet, has created some uncertainty about the future of tourist centres. The use of volunteers has also made paid positions more competitive.

In some cases, where funding is limited or removed altogether, tourist information centres have survived by merging with council one-stop shops and offering a reduced service, or by moving into the private sector and merging with local businesses or attractions.

Look for job vacancies at:

Professional development

You'll receive most of your training on the job. You may receive induction training and there may also be opportunities to attend training and courses on specific topics, such as:

  • customer care
  • merchandising
  • disability awareness
  • management.

You'll also be required to familiarise yourself with local attractions and facilities.

Funding for training may be available from your local authority. You're largely responsible for your own continuing professional development (CPD) and will need to identify your own training needs, e.g. in managing staff, and then look out for relevant training opportunities.

Membership of professional bodies may be useful for networking and professional development opportunities, and access to the latest industry news. Relevant organisations include:

Career prospects

You may begin your career as a tourist information centre assistant. With experience, there may be opportunities to move into a supervisory position and on to manager level. Alternatively, you may move sideways into the role from a management post in a related sector.

Career development may involve moving into other local government posts within tourism or marketing. Another possibility is to join one of the regional or national tourist boards, where the work may involve the development of the tourism strategy for the area and marketing the region to visitors.

The experience you gain as a tourist information centre manager can also be used in information services, for example, in libraries and information management. However, for this type of move, a postgraduate qualification may be necessary. Alternatively, you could move into the retail sector or the service or hospitality industries.

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