Southwark Council is opening a new Tourist Information Centre at Bankside attraction Vinopolis, 18 months after the closure of the Southwark Information Centre at the southern end of London Bridge.
A re-fit of the space, which Vinopolis has given rent-free, began on Monday and the centre is due to open to visitors within the next 6 weeks. The council is about to appoint a TIC manager and assistant who will be backed up by a pool of local students.
The centre is a temporary facility which will provide information to tourists while the council investigates a permanent solution. This is despite claims made at the time of the closure of the Southwark Information Centre that studies were being undertaken then.
Cllr Catherine Bowman, Executive Member for Regeneration, said: "It's great news that we've got this site for the next year. While we're sorting out something for the long term, visitors to Southwark will be able to find out about all the fantastic things there are to see and do in the borough."
The council is expecting results from a feasibility study as early as March. They will provide feedback on siting a tourist information centre in the Millennium Bridge area, and the council is in talks with the London Development Agency about funding and operation.
In the meantime, the generosity of Vinopolis, along with £160,000 secured from the London Development Agency, will allow the council to provide a six-day service to visitors.
Malcolm Ball, Chief Executive of Vinopolis, said: "Being part of this gastronomic epicentre, Vinopolis, with its Borough Market colleagues, is delighted to assist and provide a home for this new TIC."
In addition, there will be up to 15 new interactive kiosks across the borough by next summer. As well as general information about the council and its services, the kiosks will give people access to events and tourist attractions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The council says that the location of the former Southwark Information Centre below pavement level proved difficult to find and was not obvious to passers by. More recently, the success of Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge shifted the visitor focus of the area to the river and Bankside.
The new TIC is expected to open by early March. It will provide information between 10am and 6pm, Monday to Saturday.