Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre (TIC) may have been the first TIC in the country to reopen after lockdown. The doors of the town’s TIC opened for the first time in nearly three months at 10am on Monday 15th June. This was the date set by Government on which non-essential retailers could reopen, provided that measures were in place to ensure that the premises were COVID secure for both staff and customers. At a virtual meeting of the UK TIC Forum, a collective of Information Centres and Destination Management Organisations, it transpired that of those in attendance, Saffron Walden TIC had been the first to reopen, with York Visitor Information Centre reopening a day later on 16th. Others remained closed for days or even weeks longer. It was noted that sadly some TICs have closed permanently.
During lockdown, TIC staff and the Town Council’s Operations Team had worked hard to ensure that the premises met Government guidelines. The measures provided by Saffron BID such as hand sanitiser and social distancing posters were also put in place.
Since reopening, Saffron Walden TIC has reported a buoyant trade in gifts and souvenirs, with top sellers being Saffron Crocus bulbs, the new book “For Our Dogs”, the 2021 calendar, Saffron Ice Cream tubs, and more recently, locally hand-stitched crocus design facemasks. Local books and maps, particularly with walking or cycling information, are also proving popular. Visitors to the town are mostly day-trippers, with the majority coming from north London, south Essex, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. Many are “on staycation” and are discovering Saffron Walden for the first time.
The TIC is funded by Saffron Walden Town Council and is open from 9.30am – 5pm Monday to Saturday, with just the briefest of closures on a Saturday from 1 to 1.30pm. The TIC’s newly designed website www.visitsaffronwalden.gov.uk was designed and built by Tela of Hill Street, Saffron Walden.