Friday, August 13, 2010
According to the BBC, visitor numbers throughout the Western Isles are up by between 25% and 40% on the same time last year
Apparently the Scottish government's road equivalent tariff (RET) scheme, which offers lower ferry fares, has been a factor. The scheme was launched on Western Isles routes in 2008.
The subject of Island fares charged by Calmac has been the subject of local outrage for years. Oban has always been a main focus for grumbles. The cost of living on one of the Islands is horrendous, and all services from the mainland are very expensive. Imagine getting building work or contracting from the mainland if you live on Barra. Calmac do have a difficult job in profitably maintaining safe and up to date ships for traffic that peaks for just three months of the year.
But the tourists expect to pay the normal sort of holiday charges, and the accommodation providers are squeezed hard to cover costs.
So it just shows that when the ferry costs are reduced then this works for tourists.
The cost of services is a general problem in the Highlands as a whole. We may grumble about paying 32p for a 2nd class stamp, but this is based upon delivering letters to Birmingham. Can you imagine the costs of delivering even to Ardnamurchan? Or to Glencoe come to that? That is the hang up about privatising the Post Office. Whoever takes it on will be forced to charge the same rate for delivering everywhere. If they are allowed to charge differential rates then expect postal charges in the Highlands to go up to £1 for a 2nd class stamp. Ouch!
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