Island Ferry Network worth £270m to Scottish Economy: Study

Calmac, Scotland's major ferry operator, which provides links to areas such as the Western Isles, Skye, Mull, and Islay, is worth some £270 million to the economy of the country. That's according to a new study released this week by the Fraser of Allander Institute.

The figure has been calculated as a combined figure of both the employment CalMac provides directly, but also indirectly as a knock-on effect of the ferry services it provides to communities, enabling commercial enterprises to flourish in sectors such as the whisky and fishing industries. The regularity of CalMac's scheduled services increases substantially during the summer season in order to accommodate the huge volume of tourist traffic. The study suggests this affords a substantial boost to small businesses based locally on the islands, such as those involved in retail - and of course for the many hotels, B&B's and guest houses.

The report is a timely reminder of the huge swell in visitor numbers the Scottish Highlands and Islands receive during the summer months. Typically accommodation prices in the region will be considerably higher from around Easter onwards, and will always be much higher in any case than the average town and city tariffs. If you're planning a short trip or holiday to these parts of Scotland you may therefore be tempted to wait until the last minute to book your accommodation in the hope of a price drop.

Unless it's very much a spur-of-the-moment decision, this is something we'd very much recommend against. Book your accommodation well in advance - we'd say about now at the latest - because once your average Highlands and Islands hotel or guest house gets booked up for the season it tends to stay that way, and in the unlikely event a few rooms do become available a rate drop will still be very rare.

So, if you've still not booked, why not get cracking now with our comprehensive search and compare engine.

You can also book your ferry journeys in advance via Calmac's website.

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