At random with Martin Laing week 36

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Maritime visitors welcome

I was bemused last week by the response on social media to a photograph I posted of the cruise ships Hebridean Sky and Astor in Oban Bay.

There were, in fairness, few comments but those that were posted complained about the visitors disembarking causing traffic congestion.

While there may have been some inconvenience, surely that pales into insignificance compared to the benefits which accrue to the town from these vessels opting to come here.

I know from the speaking to them that the good people at BID4Oban are thrilled that these ships disgorge their many hundreds of passengers into our streets to spend their tourist pounds in our shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.

The vast majority of Oban residents make these visitors very welcome, and I would expect nothing less.

Recent years have seen Oban and the isles booming as a destination of choice. We have to see the bigger picture when it comes to the local economy. Thousands of local people rely on these tourists for their livelihoods.

Let’s continue to make them welcome.

Excitement over M&S

While I’m on about the economy, there was considerable excitement right across the region last week on the day of the new M&S Foodhall opening.

I think it is brilliant for the town and its surrounding area to have such a big name business show its confidence in the region by opening a flagship store here.

The new outlet has already created 48 jobs, which can only be a good thing, increasing prosperity in Argyll.

And there will be more jobs to come in the town soon when the new Premier Inn is completed. Construction is proceeding well, it seems, though I don’t think there is a date set yet for its opening.

And the Oban as a University Town project continues to attract young people here to study.

While it is important not to be complacent, overall our economy appears to be doing very well.

What do you think?

Write to me at mlaing@obantimes.co.uk or The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4HB, or call 01631 568021.

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