Gearing up for the big come-back

Improvements in town centre access have still to be completed.
This very public convenience at the side of Loch Creran was snapped by Oban Times reader Richard Bingham.

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Oban is gearing up for the big come-back when hospitality finally opens its doors on Monday.

The town’s welcome ambassadors will be pounding the streets once again to greet visitors venturing out after the latest relaxation of lockdown rules.

From Monday non-essential shops, pubs and other hospitality venues can open up and businesses are excitedly ‘waiting in anticipation’ for the return of visitors.

Oban became noticeably busier when travel restrictions lifted across Scotland on Friday but the big ‘buzz’ is still to come, says BID4Oban chief executive Andrew Spence.

‘We are waiting in anticipation to see what happens next. Although it won’t be completely back to normal there will definitely be a buzz around town as more restrictions ease. We are looking forward to it and are here to support our business community all the way,’ he said.

Oban and Lorn Tourism Alliance (OLTA) has called for ‘those lucky enough to live here’ to appreciate Oban needs to get back to business.

OLTA’s Linda Battison said: ‘There’s a real sense of excitement and a buzz about the town as businesses prepare to reopen and the town gears up to welcome back visitors. We will be reminding everyone to #respectprotectenjoy our area and we hope that our local communities will appreciate that Oban needs to get back to business so tourism can continue to support the economy and provide real benefits for those that are lucky enough to live here.’

In readiness for opening their doors, the hospitality trade is flooding social media with job posts seeking kitchen, front of house and housekeeping staff.

But vacancies for new seasonal wardens to keep a friendly but watchful eye on visitors after last year’s dirty camping deluge are yet to be advertised – although a spokesperson told The Oban Times earlier this month it would be ‘soon’.

One of the worst hit areas in Oban, Lorn and the Isles last year, apart from Ganavan, which had its own problems with illegal overnighters, was Glenorchy.

Campers wasted no time in heading to the glorious glen last weekend, bagging accessible riverside gaps for tents – designated car parks were also full to the brim.

Glenorchy and Innishail Community Council convenor John Kerr said the community was ‘waiting to see what happens’ after a quiet winter, admitting feelings were ‘slightly apprehensive’ because of previous ‘irresponsible behaviour’ of some.

Mr Kerr said the community council was working with partners to see what can be done. Argyll and Bute Council has put in a funding bid to NatureScot for portable toilets and extra litter bins at three popular points – the forestry car park near the bailey bridge, the Victoria Bridge car park and the one at Bride of Orchy itself – but there will be a wait.

‘Our biggest issue is litter and human waste, so the portaloos and bins will hopefully  help with these things but we will have to wait and see how much respect they receive,’ Mr Kerr said, adding that there were ‘no boots on the ground yet’ when it comes to a wider ranger service and more conversations about tourism management needed to be had. Mr Kerr said there was pressure from Argyll and Bute Council, pushing the community to take up the task, but there needed to be a balance.

The appearance of a toilet – no paper provided – at the side of Loch Creran is a mystery. Snapped by Oban Times reader Richard Bingham out on a walk, it is not known if it was shamelessly flytipped or strategically sited to flush away any thoughts of leaving waste  in such a scenic spot.