VisitScotland is to close almost two thirds of its tourist offices as part of a radical approach to the “information revolution”.
The national tourism organisation said two out of three visitors now access information online, while footfall to its information centres has dropped 58% in the past decade.
It plans to cut the number of information centres from 65 to 26 “high impact regional hubs” in locations of greatest visitor demand over the next two years.
Staff will be offered the options of redeployment, retraining or voluntary redundancy.
The centres earmarked for closure include those at Edinburgh and Glasgow Airports, Inveraray, Aberfeldy, Thurso and Braemar.
VisitScotland plans to increase the ways it provides content on places to visit and stay, with a mix of industry partners, Coo Vans and a big focus on digital communications.
Lord John Thurso, chairman of VisitScotland, said: “The way visitors access information has changed significantly over the past decade.
“It’s time to switch our focus and investment into new and diverse initiatives to ensure we are reaching as many people as possible with the information they want, in the way they want it, when they want it.
“With three in four adults now owning a smartphone, a key focus is ensuring our digital communications provide succinct inspirational and informational advice to visitors at every stage of their journey.
“However, we know that speaking to locals is also important to our visitors and with our 26 high footfall travel hubs, over 1500 VisitScotland Information Partners and our team of outreach staff travelling around the country, it means that there is always advice on what to see and do and where to go wherever people are.
“The information revolution is upon us and technology has been a game-changer over the past ten years. We look forward to telling more and more visitors all about our remarkable country across all our different channels for many years to come.”
VisitScotland said information provision will continue in all locations through partnership arrangements with local visitor attractions, car hire firms, businesses, tourism groups and local tourism experts.
The 26 centres staying open include those in Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews, Inverness, Kirkwall and Lerwick.
Decisions regarding the location of the regional hubs in Dumfries and Galloway, the Borders and the Outer Hebrides will be made in consultation with the local tourism industry and stakeholders over the coming months.
In the meantime sites located in Peebles, Jedburgh, Gretna, Kirkcudbright, Dumfries, Tarbert (Harris) and Stornoway will continue to operate as normal.
Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, added: “VisitScotland’s new broader approach to information provision will mean changes, however it will also make more options available to visitors, ensuring information is delivered in the right place, at the right time in the right way to meet demand.
“Although there will be fewer VisitScotland Information Centres, we know that there will be many more places for visitors to access information across the country, whether this is online through their greatly enhanced digital platforms and partnerships, the ever-expanding network of tourism ambassadors and businesses who provide local advice or through the improved flagship VisitScotland regional travel hubs.
“We also believe that VisitScotland will manage these changes in a sensitive way, ensuring that alternatives are in place to help manage any local concerns.”