RYEDALE District Council has had a “positive” response to plans for two new visitor information points in Malton and Helmsley.

Briefings were held last week on the proposals for a town centre firm in each town to become a Tourist Information Point (TIP), offering details of events, attractions and accommodation, when tourist information centres (TIC) close in April.

The businesses will, in return, be promoted in tourism literature and on the Visit Ryedale website, with support from council staff.

Last year, visitor numbers to Malton TIC fell by nearly 12,000 compared to 2011 when 34,793 people used the service.

The closure of the TICs is expected to save the council an estimated £54,000 a-year.

However, Winston Kobyalka, who runs Woodalls, in Malton Market Place, said although people regularly called at the store to ask for information, he would be reluctant to devote the space or time required for tourist information.

“I do feel it is unfair to put the burden on business people for something so specialised,” he said. “The library is the ideal place for that information because that is where people go for all other information, therefore it makes sense to continue it being the base for community and tourism-driven activities.”

Chris Garnett, chairman of Helmsley in Business and owner of Hunters of Helmsley deli, said: “As tourism is a key part of our economy, we think it very short-sighted of the council to close the TIC. Helmsley in Business members felt it would be difficult for a centrally-located business to provide a full Tourist Information Centre.

Helmsley’s TIP has a significantly larger footfall then the TICs in other Ryedale towns, so it would seem to us that a TIC should be homed here. Our TIC used to be in the town hall, which, to us, seems the most logical place, so ideally we’d like the council to look to reinstate it there.”

A spokesman for Ryedale District Council said: “We had a positive response to the briefings and the responses given will now be looked at before a final decision is taken towards the end of next month.”

For more information about the proposals, visit www.ryedale.gov.uk