Prior to setting up the website www.southwoldtouristinformation.co.uk, I was employed by the district council, working at the Tourist Information Centre in the popular seaside town of Southwold. At the end of April 2016 the district council closed many of the local TICs including Southwold, with myself and my colleagues all being made redundant, and replacing the personal service we had provided with generic leaflet stands located in four local businesses. However, I personally felt that this was not good enough, especially for people who have never visited the area before. A single stand in a business could not replace the variety of leaflets and event posters that had covered the walls in the TIC, nor the wealth of local information we were happy to pass on.
After the closure, the website was then independently set up and funded by myself to hopefully offer as similar service as possible, albeit purely online. I am self employed and run the website from my home. The amount I am looking to raise is based on working just one hour per day (at the current living wage of £9 per hour), over a single year. Even though this still does not cover all of the time I spend every day (whether keeping the website information up to date; posting useful and interesting items on various social media such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest; responding to the many and varied email enquiries from visitors, or listing local events), this will certainly help contribute and enable me to continue running the website.
I am not affiliated with or funded by any council or tourism body and although the website does have some advertisers who pay a small annual charge, the majority of information is listed for free much like leaflets would be freely displayed in tourist information centres. Since the website was launched it has steadily increased in size, as have the number of visitors using the website and the number of email enquiries I receive. The website now has well-over 80 pages of all sorts of useful local information, and to date there have been over 62,000 unique visitors using the website and I have responded to well over 700 email enquiries.