Castle Douglas Development Forum has announced it is to take over the former VisitScotland Information Centre at Market Hill from 25th May. The community development group’s vision is to create a friendly and accessible focal point for the town which will provide essential information to help visitors, and local people, to make the most of their time in Castle Douglas and the surrounding area. Importantly the visitor centre, to be named ‘Heart of Galloway’, will promote Castle Douglas’ vibrant independent retail experience, showcase local produce and essentially become a hub for a range of products and experiences.
Sarah-Jane Allsopp who chairs Castle Douglas Development Forum will be leading on developing the new visitor centre and has ambitious plans for it, she commented:
“As soon as we found out that the tourist information centre was to be closed we were determined that it needed to stay in community hands and to be used for the benefit of Castle Douglas and the visitors who come here. So we are delighted to be working with VisitScotland to make this happen and we hope to complete an asset transfer of the building over the next year. “Our immediate plans are to get the new visitor centre open in time for the May bank holiday weekend. We plan to open the doors to the new Heart of Galloway Visitor Centre on Friday 25th May and we hope the community will come out and support it. “In the longer term we are exploring a range of ideas and we hope to make further announcements soon. We see a great deal of potential in working with the region’s craft, food and drink industry to explore how we can make local produce more accessible and available right across the region by becoming a local produce hub as well as a visitor information hub.”
As well as working with VisitScotland on the property transfer and the creation of a new Visitor Information Point, the Forum is also working with Galloway Glens to explore how best to co-ordinate activity to provide a seamless service to visitors and local people. For Sarah-Jane Allsopp, who is a former food producer herself, creating a community owned hub to showcase Castle Douglas and the surrounding area opens up lots of possibilities and opportunities.
Lorna Young of DG Food and Drink has complimented the work of the Forum in securing the visitor centre and said:
“I’m delighted that Castle Douglas Development Forum is pulling together such ambitious plans for this important building and I look forward to working with them to develop the local produce offering at the centre. “Castle Douglas is a jewel in the tourism crown of Dumfries & Galloway and its food heritage as a market town and retail centre means it is perfectly placed to capitalise on the huge growth in food tourism. This is an exciting development for Castle Douglas and the community is to be congratulated for coming up with such a positive future for this visitor centre.”
The Forum is looking for volunteers to help staff the centre, with full training being provided. Local food and craft producers who are interested in having their produce retailed in the visitor centre are likewise invited to make contact at email@example.com or by calling into the visitor centre from next Friday.