Bumper year as 30 cruise ships already confirmed for Oban

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With numerous cruise ships already confirmed to be visiting Oban, 2018 is looking to be a bumper year.

From May to September, there have been 30 bookings, with eight taking place in May alone.

Janice Stewart, owner of Made In Argyll which sells locally-made crafts said: ‘The cruise ships bring the world to our doorstep so they are very welcome here.

‘We hope their passengers will come and explore the independent shops like us in Oban as well as the town’s restaurants while they are here and then go back home to spread the word to bring us future trade.’

Elaine Robertson, councillor for Oban North and Lorn, said: ‘Oban is a port where people can come in and step off in the middle of the town. One lady asked us where the bus to the town was and we said just walk 20 yards and turn left. She couldn’t believe it. What we have done by working with everyone is to encourage people to spend time in town.

‘The businesses in town felt cruise ships came in and went away in buses to Inveraray, Glen Coe and other venues.

‘When the last big ship came in, there were six buses and only one went away for the day, the rest [of the passengers] spent time in the town.’

However, Councillor Robertson added: ‘The most important thing is being there at the slip and welcoming people.’

Oban’s town ambassadors, Kay McDonald and Joe Reich, meet passengers coming off the ships. They are a ‘mobile tourist information hub’, telling visitors about attractions and businesses. Bid4Oban is also training official Oban town guides to greet and inform visitors.

Cllr Robertson said: ‘It’s about a West Highland welcome. The message is Oban is open for business and it welcomes you.’

Andrew Spence, chief executive of Bid4Oban, said: ‘It’s good news. That’s why we set up the town guides and try to keep people in the town. We recognise the importance of that business.

‘It’s important the town is ready for these cruise ships and visitors. It’s important to welcome them and to generate as much business as we can.’

Calum Ross, chairman of the Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative, said: ‘It’s great all these people come into the town. Every person that comes to Oban on a cruise ship for the first time is a potential returning visitor, so it’s a really big opportunity to showcase the town.’