A premium rate Brighton and Hove tourist information phoneline is set to be scrapped.
VisitBrighton revealed today half its complaints are about the 50p a minute service, to which calls have plummeted from 100,000 in 2000 to just 12,000 this year.
Now, in a bid to help the city’s economy, the city council’s tourism arm wants to merge with the Royal Pavilion booking team to set up a small call centre taking free calls.
A final decision is expected at the next regular meeting hosted by cabinet member for culture David Smith, on December 8. If approved, the new system would start in April.
Cllr Smith said: “I’m giving it careful consideration. People generally don’t like premium rate lines – I never call them myself.
“Also many people cannot or will not use email or internet. So we need a way to deal with phone calls which does not put people off.
“When people get through on the phone we have a good chance of converting that enquiry into a booking benefitting local businesses.”
When first launched the premium rate service attracted almost 100,000 calls a year. Today this has dropped to around 12,000. Revenue fell from around £40,000 to £10,000.
However nearly 300,000 people go to the Visitor Information Centre near the Pavilion annually. Staff also handle 1,200 postal enquiries and 10,500 by email. The VisitBrighton website gets a million hits a year.