A YOUTH hostel which has been serving visitors to Stow for nearly 80 years, is set to close.

The YHA, which opened up a hostel in a Grade II listed town house in The Square in 1935, is putting it on the market after seeing a small fall in profits over the last few years.

The hostel, which employs one full-time member of staff and has a play area and country café, will be open to guests until at least the end of the summer season.

A YHA spokesman said over the last three years, YHA has invested £17milliion in its Youth Hostels but the Stow site was not being used enough to warrant the investment.

"YHA constantly reviews the quality and the locations of our accommodation to ensure that our members and guests are getting the best experience when they stay with us," he said.

"YHA’s Board of Trustees has made the decision to announce the closure of a number of sites this year. The money will be used to invest in others.

"Decisions like hostel closures are never taken lightly and the staff at the affected sites are our first priority."

The spokesman said it was hoped some of the sites could become part of the YHA network under the Enterprise scheme, which means closed hostel could re-open independently but be affiliated to the YHA, but no decision has yet been made about Stow's suitability as an Enterprise site.

Discussing the closure at last Thursday's town council meeting, Mayor Alun White said: "It's a matter of regret the youth hostel association has decided to close.

"I think we certainly would like to find out what this enterprise scheme might be because the hostelling tradition has got a long history in this town."

Andy Collier, who runs the Stow Tourist Information Centre, said the closure would be a big blow to tourists.

"As far as I know, it's pretty popular," he said. "I can imagine it would be quite a loss to the town, for people on a budget. Not everyone wants to pay £80 a night.

"That sort of generation, aged 18 to 25 just travelling round for a few weeks on a budget, that will be a big loss."