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Harris summer ferry bookings are last on the list

Calmac has confirmed that the summer 2024 ferry timetable will be available  online from 9am on the 11th January. However, bookings for summer journeys on the Uig-Tarbert-Lochmaddy route will not open for another month.




Bookings to and from Tarbert are set to open on February 12th, more than three weeks later than those on the Ullapool-Stornoway and Berneray-Leverburgh routes (available from Thursday January 18th).


The summer timetable, which runs from the end of March until October, covers a peak period for local businesses, particularly those in the tourism industry. There are       concerns that this delay in releasing bookings could impact the choices of   holiday-makers who want to plan ahead.


“It is very unhelpful that there is this delay issuing the timetable, disadvantaging businesses here.” said Kenny MacLeod, chair of Harris Development Limited.


“People who are keen to get accommodation booked etc, may not be willing to wait the extra three weeks after other areas are launched. There is the very real risk that visitors will choose to go elsewhere as those routes are already open and available.  Why is it taking so long when there are no real changes to the timetable? “


The release of the summer timetable comes alongside news that fares will rise by almost 9 per cent across all routes.


A Calmac statement said: “We apologise for the late publication of summer timetables, and for the impact this has had on businesses and the communities we serve. We were unable to prepare our systems to open bookings while we awaited the decision on 2024 fare levels from Transport Scotland.”


“Transport Scotland has now confirmed fares will rise in line with the 2023 Consumer Price Index at a rate of 8.7 per cent across all routes and fare types. This decision     allows us to prepare to open bookings.”


The statement explained that the particular delay to the Uig-Tarbert-Lochmaddy route has been caused by plans to increase the use of the mezzanine decks (which allow ferries to carry more vehicles) on the route.


 

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