By Eilidh Whiteford
Bringing the Old Post Office building back to life, Susan and Austen Dancey were delighted to house their Puffin Studio Crafts shop in Creagorry, Benbecula, in the well-known premises.
“People remember it as the Post Office and before that the Bank,” said Austen, “and say that they’re pleased to see the building in use again.”
“Many tell us that it seems a lot larger than before but all we’ve done is move things around and open up the windows on the road side, which lets in a lot more light.”
By Eilidh Whiteford
Photographs by Roz Skinner
Back to basics and ensuring visitors are treated to a full Hebridean experience, Salar Smokehouse in Lochcarnan is back in business.
Set up in 1987 as a small business in South Uist, just over a decade later, Salar Salmon had become an international name and was bought over by Loch Duart Ltd in 2008.
By April 2015 however, the plant was shut down, with the loss of 10 local jobs.
Outer Hebrides Tourism (OHT) has asked VisitScotland for an urgent review of its decision to close Lochboisdale Visitor Information Centre (VIC).
Alan Graham, the Vice-Chairman of Outer Hebrides Tourism (OHT) and the co-owner of Orasay Inn tourist business in Lochcarnan, comments: “It is sad that OHT, the organisation representing businesses across the tourism industry in the Outer Hebrides, were neither involved nor consulted on this decision.”
OHT has therefore now expressed its concern to VisitScotland about tourist information provision in the Outer Hebrides. Whilst OHT was briefed on a wider review in December 2015, it was assured that any changes to local visitor information centres, and the process of doing so, would be discussed with them. That has not happened.
“Whilst OHT recognises and welcomes the use of digital technology as an information source, we are proud that the experience of a holiday in the Outer Hebrides is renowned for the local personal touch so loved by visitors. Visitors should not have to rely solely on a world-wide web for local information. But relying on enlisting tourism businesses in Lochboisdale to plug the gap left by the closure by signing them up to VisitScotland’s new ‘Visitor Information Partner' campaign is unfair on busy businesses focussed on meeting the needs of their own visitors."
OHT says it would have been keen to discuss possibilities for interim arrangements for the Lochboisdale VIC had the recruitment problem been properly shared with its team. OHT has now sought a meeting with VisitScotland to explore all options to reinstate this visitor information centre at Lochboisdale as a matter of urgency. Ferry passengers arriving at Lochboisdale now find the nearest visitor centres are in Castlebay, another ferry journey away on Barra, and Lochmaddy, several islands and a long drive to the north.
Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil is dismayed at the closure of the Lochboisdale Tourist Office as VisitScotland state that they are unable to recruit suitable staff.
Mr MacNeil has received confirmation from VisitScotland that the decision has been taken not to re-open the premises and roll out the VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) programme, a strategy which will include industry, working with VisitScotland to provide more information to more people through more outlets.
A decision to close the Lochboisdale Visit Scotland office has been met with incredulity by Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan.
Visit Scotland say that following the departure of a key member of staff, they made ‘numerous’ attempts to recruit seasonal staff for the centre – all of which were unsuccessful.
As a result, the tourism body has decided not to re-open the office.