Ottawa's only tourist centre to close

Ottawa's only tourist information centre will be closing this week, with tablet-toting information officers and a more modest kiosk set to take its place.

Budget considerations partly responsible

Ottawa's only tourist information centre will be closing this week, with tablet-toting information officers and a more modest kiosk set to take its place.

Staff at the Capital InfoCentre across from Parliament Hill have helped more than 325,000 people a year find their way and book hotel rooms.

Andy Rajagopalan is one tourist who found the info centre useful.

"We saw the info centre and thought it would be a good place to find our bearings," said Rajagopalan, who was visiting with his wife from North Carolina.

"It was awesome, there's a very nice map. You have a button you can push, and it shows you where the building you want to go is." 

But the National Capital Commission says finances and a need to modernize visitor services are forcing the closure of the information centre, effective Tuesday.

Renovations would cost $5 million

The building is in need of renovations that would have cost $5 million, according to the NCC.

Guy Laflamme, senior vice-president of NCC, said it was a tough decision to close, but now the agency will deploy information officers equipped with electronic tablets at notable landmarks.

"Rather than being behind a counter, waiting for visitors to come to us, we're going to where visitors are located," he said.

The NCC will also staff a much smaller kiosk in the far less prominent corridor of the World Exchange Plaza.

An unfortunate downsizing, according to Jantine Van Kregten of Ottawa Tourism.

But Van Kregten said a new special committee of major tourism players, including hotels and the airport, will monitor the impact of the changes.

"They're going to look at what's happening once the centre closes, and the new kiosk in the World Exchange Plaza opens, then go from there," she said.

The kiosk will open Tuesday, but the map that Rajagopalan and his wife liked won't be there.