Now that the evenings are stretching a little, I started to reflect on this year’s
holiday plans and the island’s welcome influx of visitors with some foreboding. Three
areas concern me, first accommodation in Lewis.
Already hotels, B & B and self-catering properties are filling rapidly and potential
visitors seem to be experiencing difficulties finding accommodation, even as early
Secondly ferry capacity. The adequacy of the Loch Seaforth with three daily return
runs to Stornoway in the main holiday months seems short sighted. A sensible suggestion
I’ve heard involves hiring the Clipper Ranger, which apparently is available for
hire, to relieve the pressure by providing daily freight runs. Last year drivers
were unable to travel at the times they prefer, or at short notice, because of capacity
Last minute bookings for attendance at funerals and visits to sick relatives in hospitals
became very testing. There are many stories of holiday makers having no appreciation
of the capacity issues and discovering at the port that they cannot get on the ferry.
Some cancel their accommodation at the last minute. I have even heard of foot passengers
being turned away.
Finally, the Inverness to Ullapool ferry bus link: I am a regular user of this service
and have seen a few rammies at Inverness bus station as passengers are left behind.
Last year, Citylink responded to pressure and if there are too many booked passengers
for one bus, then a second one is provided. However, it is unacceptable that residents
and visitors have to book days in advance. Trips may be at short notice, for example,
family illness or sudden holiday decisions. Where else in Britain do you have to
book a place on a bus a day ahead? Years ago, the service was better.
The present situation we find ourselves in, from accommodation difficulties to ferry
capacity and bus availability provide anxiety and worse for residents and visitors
as the 2018 season approaches. It shows the failure and lack of planning by the Scottish
Government, their agents Transport Scotland and Alastair Allan our local MSP to sort
a pressing island problem.