A NEW tourist information centre with a focus on 'community' has opened its doors in Kendal.

Fantastic Kendal, located on Finkle Street, is the brainchild of Sarah Williams, the manager of Kendal's Business Improvement District.

Manned by a team of 22 volunteers, the shop is open seven days a week and aims to offer a friendly point of contact for visitors.

"Kendal is fantastic and the more people that shout about Kendal and tell people it's fantastic, the more people will believe it," said Sarah.

"You can get friendly service, all staffed by volunteers who love Kendal. You get all the tourist information centre information, you can drop off your bags, you can book a hotel. We've been telling people where they can go for walks, so it's all that local knowledge."

Visitors can also buy Kendal 'goodies', such as a mint cake, magnets, tea towels, teddies and products from local businesses such as Felltarn Friends.

"Tourists want to be able to take something little away as a little momento of where they've been," said Sarah.

Val Brodie is one of those who is giving up her time to help in the shop. She said she thinks it is 'just what Kendal is needing'.

"I think this is going to be a tremendous advantage to the town," she said. "It will offer lots of local information, a friendly face, enthusiasm and lots of good information not only about Kendal but about the Lake District."

Val has lived in Kendal for 52 years, knows the area very well and said she would not 'live anywhere else'.

Sarah explained that the shop would also be offering a new service that allows market day shoppers to pick up their favourite produce on the second Friday of the month.

"The success of the Kendal farmers market is known," she said. "So that's on the last Friday of every month. So people can order the products and collect it here on the second Friday of the month.

We get all the footfall from the last Friday of the month and then we get it again for the second Friday of the month."

She added that the centre would also become a 'pay zone' point where people could come and pay their bills.

"It's about community," she said. "Being run by volunteers. It's a bit more than a tourist information centre, it's more like a local and visitor hub as well."