A royal visitor brought an extra 1,000 tourists into Oban yesterday as the town officially opened its new pontoon development.
The cruise ship Pacific Princess sat proudly in the bay as the ribbon was cut to open the facility, with many of its passengers joining the celebrations.
Argyll and Bute Council has invested £1.5million into its £2.5million project, which has also received £300,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise and £700,000 the Scottish Government.
The council has received some criticism over the project, which existing privately owned marinas fear could threaten their business.
Recently crowned champion of champions, Oban High School Pipe Band, performed at the North Pier before the ribbon cutting ceremony took place.
Provost of Argyll and Bute, Councillor Len Scoullar, said: “This fantastic new facility provides an easy access marine gateway into Oban. It will establish the town as a key attraction in the west coast marine industry, and so drive forward the economic prosperity of the local and wider area.
“It has taken a great deal of hard work and determination to deliver this fabulous resource for Oban. It is by working in partnership – public and private sectors along with our local communities – that we will ensure that Argyll and Bute is a great place to live, work, visit and do business, and this project stands as testament to the combined efforts of its project partners.
“Our thanks go to all involved. The new North Pier pontoons stand ready to carry Oban into a prosperous economic future.”
The pontoons provide short-stay accommodation for vessels of varying sizes. They will be complemented by a visitors’ maritime facility, due for completion in November. This building will provide a harbourmaster’s office, toilets, showers, lockers and a changing area and commercial space for rent.
Councillor Elaine Robertson, chairwoman of the Oban, Lorn and the Isles area committee, added: “Our ambition is to turn the potential of the marine tourism industry into economic growth for Oban and the wider area. Oban is ready to welcome the world, and we are creating reasons for the world to welcome us as a must-visit location.”
The ribbon was cut by Marley Squire and Innes Munro from Oban High School Pipe Band, helped by Cathy MacGregor, wife of the late John MacGregor, director of Oban Bay Marine, community group which promoted the pontoons idea over many years and Marri Malloy, chairwoman of Oban Community Council.