TOURIST information centres (TIC) in Malton and Helmsley closed at the weekend in a bid to save money and modernise the service.

Ryedale District Council decided to shut the two TICs last year and replace them with visitor information points and other mobile phone app services. Pickering TIC is now the only centre with face-to-face contact for visitors.

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

Last year, visitor numbers to Malton TIC fell by almost 12,000 compared to 2011 when 34,793 people used the service, while Pickering had more than 80,000 visitors during 2011.

The district council is now working towards establishing two new visitor information points in Malton and Helmsley.

The plan is for a town centre firm to become a Tourist Information Point (TIP), offering details of events, attractions and accommodation.

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

Members of Helmsley Town Council were told that a new location had been found for a TIP in the town, but the site had not yet been disclosed.

Councillor Jake Duncombe said he welcomed the news.

“It is good that someone is prepared to run it,” he added.

In Malton, the Milton Rooms will be taking over the box office facility that has been offered by the TIC for several years.

Barbara Murray, from the Milton Rooms committee, said the office would be open from 10am to 3pm, Monday to Friday, and volunteers would receive training.

“It is a great opportunity for the Milton Rooms and we will be operating a credit card facility soon and also an on-line service,” she added.

Meanwhile, Ryedale District Council has given Pickering TIC a refresh ready for the new season.