Issues raised over impact of free new Derry Walls app

Concerns have been raised about the detrimental impact the new Walls Alive app could have on local tour guides.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 10:29 am

The issue was raised by UUP Alderman Darren Guy at a meeting of the Business and Culture Committee.

The Walls Alive app, developed by Derry and Strabane Council in partnership with Visit Derry and launched last week, allows users to experience the story of Derry’s historic past, and more contemporary history through the use of Digital Technology

Alderman Guy said: “I’ve been contacted by a local tour guide who has spent a lot of money, especially when not earning during lockdown, to produce audio tours as an alternative form of local tour guide in our city. After the release of the free Walls Alive app he had a call to say a group was cancelling as they could now get the information for free through the new app. Ironically the council encouraged this tour guide to sign up to a family friendly tour initiative  and then the booking was cancelled.

Grand Parade, Derry Walls. DER2126GS - 061

“Local tour guides pay a membership subscription to visit Derry to benefit from their support of  around £180 per annum. That was reduced this year with Covid Recovery to £148 and there was no charge last year due to lockdown. Could I ask officers if would be an idea, along with Visit Derry, to monitor any further cancellations or how the app has possibly affected the uptake of guided tours around the city centre in the coming months, perhaps adding a small fee to the Walls Alive app to help reduced the membership for local tour guides if it is going to affect their business.”

Council’s Head of Culture, Aeidin McCarter informed Members that the tour guide in question had already been in contact with both the council and Visit Derry and she added that the organisations had offered to meet the guide. We will look at the issues but it shouldn’t be affecting tour guides but if there is something we can do in relation to the information on the app if it is affecting their business then we are happy to look at that.”

By Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter