Oban’s new pontoon development for visiting yachts and cruise ships has become such a success that it is being considered for expansion.
In its first full season, Argyll and Bute Council’s pontoon project at the North Pier is bringing nearly an extra 2,000 people a week into the town.
Fergus Murray, the council’s head of economic development and strategic transport, was providing an update to the Oban Lorn and the Isles area committee yesterday.
He said: “The pontoon development is attracting 200 extra people in to the town per week day and 400 at weekends. We are recording numbers of round about 50 boats a day using it.
“They are all staying short term. That is what it was intended to be used for.
“There are seven or eight small private cruise ships based there at the moment. We are hoping to expand that, however there is not enough room for them all at peak times, that is something that we will have to manage.
“We are monitoring the business and will be looking at a tender process to decide who will run it. That will come back to committee for a decision.”
Elaine Robertson, chairwoman of the committee and lead councillor for Oban Lorn and the Isles, said: “The information I am getting back from the harbour master is that some times she hasn’t enough space.
“We will at some time have to look at extending the pier or the pontoon area. We will wait for the report.”
Next year the council is due to look for an operator to take on the pontoons.
However Councillor Roddy McCuish said: “If there are healthy figures coming back and it is successful, one of the options is for us to keep it. Why should we give away an asset?”
When asked about the council’s plans to extend the North Pier, Mr Murray said: “What we have discovered from the success of the berthing facility is that it may no longer be required.
“But options will be presented. We want to make the North Pier more of a focus for tourism. We now there are a range of things to be considered. That will be brought back to committee to be considered.”
Councillor McCuish asked: “If we have got a facility doing the job at the moment, need we do any more?”
Mr Murray replied: “One of the options will be to maintain the facility as it is.”
The £3.1million investment includes the pontoons and a new harbour building and maritime visitor centre.