Visit Scotland has announced it is to close two-thirds of its Visitor Information Centres (VIC), including many in far-flung regions such as the Outer Hebrides, where three out of four will close, and replace them with “virtual” digital hubs because centres have suffered a 58% drop in footfall in the past 12 years.

However regional businesses have called the plans Edinburgh-centric and unworkable, because mobile and broadband coverage is so poor in rural areas, tourists will struggle to find information online such as last-minute hotel availability, boat trips and weather forecasts. Much of the Outer Hebrides is a mobile-free zone with no signal, and where wi-fi exists it is “island speed” with upload connection below 2mbps.

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