South Warwickshire Tourism Ltd said it had been ”forced” to close the centre after Stratford-on-Avon District Council decided not to renew its annual funding of the company.
The partnership, which trades as Shakespeare Country, confirmed that its collapse had resulted in 17 job losses, as well as the closure of the tourist information office in nearby Leamington Spa.
In a statement, the district council said it was fully committed to tourism and aimed to reopen a tourist information centre in Stratford as soon as possible.
Although Warwick District Council had committed funding to Shakespeare Country until March 2011, Stratford-on-Avon District Council’s decision to withdraw funding led to the tourism company being wound up yesterday.
Shakespeare Country’s chairperson Sally Carrick said: ”This is an extremely sad and highly regrettable time for tourism in Shakespeare Country.
”The demise of Shakespeare Country and the closure of two instrumental tourist information centres will send out a very negative message to the millions of visitors who come here each year.
”It could not have happened at a worse time in the run up to Easter, one of the busiest periods for tourism in the region.”
Stratford-on-Avon District Council helped set up South Warwickshire Tourism in partnership with Warwick District Council and other tourism partners in 1997.
In a statement, Stratford-on-Avon District Council said it was saddened to note the ”unilateral decision” by South Warwickshire Tourism to close its tourist information service in Stratford.
The council statement said: ”South Warwickshire Tourism is a private company which has been commissioned to provide services for many years.
”The trading position is a matter for the company, not this council.”
Stratford District Council said its medium-term budget still included an annual sum of £298,000 for tourism promotion.
Its statement continued: ”Stratford District Council sincerely hopes South Warwickshire Tourism overcomes its current difficulties and thanks the company for the service it has provided for the last decade and more.”
Visitors to Stratford, which attracts around four million tourists each year, are currently being directed to an alternative information ”office” at the town’s leisure centre, which is adjacent to the council-owned tourist information centre.