While Skye's visitor attractions wait to find out how the island's Mallaig -Armadale ferry service operates this year after problems caused in 2016, Calmac is already planning for the future.
After a reports of a significant drop in organised coach tours particuarly to south Skye caused by last summer's far from reliable ferry service, the company are going out of their way to encourage similar visits to the island with the launch of their Travel Trade Product Planner...for 2018!.
According to Calmac the popular planner has been developed over the years and has been widely praised by the travel trade industry as an invaluable and creative reference tool – in some cases better helping them to understand the geography of the area, together with hints and tips about what to see and where to go.
The 2018 planner was launched at the Coach Tourism Associations Annual Coach Holiday Conference in Bournemouth to great interest from around 50 of the UK and Europe’s most influential coach operators, tour organisers and tour wholesalers.
Among the pages, travel trade operators can also find details of recommended tours, including two new additions for 2018 – a sightseeing cruise to the Isle of Mull and a chance to take in history with a tour over the sea to Skye.
The latter takes travellers on The Road to the Isles to Mallaig, before making the world famous crossing over the sea to Skye. Once on the island, visitors can take in the spectacle of Armadale Castle and gardens, and learn about Clan Donald before heading further north on the Sleat Peninsula, known as the Garden of Skye, to Broadford and returning to the mainland using the Skye Bridge.
Mull’s sightseeing cruise gives passengers the chance to take in the spectacular vistas of the Isles of Kerrera, Lismore and Mull, as well as keep their eyes open for some of the rich abundance of wildlife which is often spotted in the waters of the Firth of Lorn and the Sound of Mull. There is plenty of time to sit back and relax, along with a bowl of soup, which is part of the price.
These two new packages join other more established routes taking in the likes of the Isles of Arran, Islay, Bute, Gigha, Rum, Iona, Staffa, North Uist and Harris, as well as a tour of mainland Argyll areas incorporating a crossing from the village of Tarbert on Kintyre to Portavadie on the Cowal Peninsula.
The brochure also features useful information for tour operators about what they and their customers can expect on board various vessels which serve the areas, including some of the local produce available, as well as information about the major vessels in the fleet and, importantly for tour planners, coach fares for 2018.
“We hope that this brochure offers inspiration for coach and tour operators, allowing them to incorporate creative and varied packages into their own itineraries,” said CalMac’s senior travel trade account manager Ian Fox. “The comprehensive information we provide is a combination of not only our own experience and knowledge as a transport operator serving the west coast for more than 165 years, but also that of the areas and businesses involved.
“Operators can, therefore, be confident that what we have pulled together offers both good value for money and great insight about the beautiful places we visit.
“We look forward to welcoming plenty of bookings for 2018 and were greatly encouraged by the interest shown.”