Visitor centre will move into D-Day museum

Portsmouth MP flies out to storm-hit islands on first trip as development secretary

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A TOURIST information centre is to move to Southsea’s D-Day museum in a bid to boost tourism in the city,

Portsmouth City Council has agreed to move its visitor information centre from its current location, outside Blue Reef Aquarium on Clarence Esplanade, to the D-Day Museum, on the same road.

The measure, included in the council’s budget, will see one job lost, and will save the council £35,000 per year.

But the council’s leader for culture, Councillor Lee Hunt, said other benefits were more important than savings.

He said: ‘The centre sits on its own and for a lot of the year it’s not open as much as we’d like. As it’s sat alone, we can’t have just one staff member there at any time. Moving it to the museum means access seven days a week, all year, and will increase visitor numbers to the museum. Hopefully, they’ll stay and look around.’

The council is working to increase visits to the museum, which in the last year had just over 61,000 visitors, as numbers dropped 25 per cent between the 60th and 65th anniversaries of the landings.

It hopes tourists who use the Visitor Information Centre – 43,000 last year – will stay at the museum.

Cllr Hunt said: ‘The museum, which also contains the Overlord embroidery, is one of the country’s best, but as it’s 25 years old, we have to do some work on it, to attract more people.

‘This is part of that, and will make our information service more accessible.’

The plans will see an estimated £78,000 spent on refurbishing the museum’s entrance and shop area to include the information centre.

The current centre building, which is closed two days a week during the winter season, would be rented out.

Cllr Hunt said: ‘We hope a cafe or drink seller might be interested. It’s part of our plans to improve the seafront.’