As part of its collaboration in the development of the west coast’s tourism sector, ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) is conducting an experiment to see if extending the period of a 5 day saver ticket will encourage visitors to spend more time on an island.
The Isle of Mull has been selected as the subject of a trial and will see the validity of a five day saver return extended to nine days at no extra cost. Currently visitors have to pay more if staying for 6 days or more. (£11 extra for a car and £1.70 for a passenger).
When this Summer,’s trial is evaluated, if it can be shown to have increased the length of visitor stays on the island, CalMac intend rolling out this extension to other appropriate islands.
The hope is that visitors who currently stay on the island for 5 days to take advantage of the reduced fare will choose to stay longer and therefore generate more business for accommodation providers, restaurants, cafes and visitor attractions.
Brian Fulton, Head of Operations at CalMac says: ‘Extending the duration of our current five day savers was one of a number of ideas which came out of discussions with community representatives in Mull about how CalMac could help them further.
‘This is not however about getting people to go to Mull at the expense of other island destinations, rather it is about encouraging those who are already planning to go to stay longer. Although it is a popular destination and our ferry service to the island is one of the busiest in the network, the majority of people who visit there tend to be day trippers or on short breaks.
‘Getting people onto our ferries is only part of the picture.
‘We are encouraging tourism bodies and businesses on the island to use this initiative to look at what Mull currently offers visitors and see what they can do to enhance the visitor experience there.
‘We will be setting criteria for measuring success with the Mull community and we know there are other islands who will be interested to see the outcome and whether it may be of value to their visitors.’
The offer is only available on off peak sailings and for those travelling on a return ticket from Oban to Craignure and is now available online or from port offices.
CalMac acknowledges the support of the Scottish Government in agreeing to this experiment. It sets the fares on the ferry services and such an amendment could not be made without their approval.
The outcome of this pilot scheme will be of wide general interest. There is a persuasive logic behind it which the evidence will eventually show to operate in reality to the extent of underpinning changes to fare structures in this way – or not.