The economic value of Oban’s new North Pier Pontoons facility was clear for all to see on the day of its official opening, with the arrival of 1,000 cruise ship passengers and other maritime visitors into the town.
To music from the recently crowned Champion of Champions Oban High School Pipe Band, representatives from the local community, funders and project partners gathered together today, Thursday, 31 August 2017, to promote the facility as a new, key attraction for national and international maritime tourism, and as a driver for the economic development of Oban and the surrounding area.
Provost of Argyll and Bute, Councillor Len Scoullar, opened the event:
“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.
“It’s been financed by Argyll and Bute Council, the Scottish Government and HIE and has been inspired by widespread community support and delivered by the council and project partners Fairhurst, Gael Force, North West Marine, and Gareloch Support Services
“Our thanks go to all involved. The new North Pier Pontoons stand ready to carry Oban into a prosperous economic future.”
Depute Leader of the council, and Policy Lead for Finance, Councillor Gary Mulvaney, said:
“The council has directly invested £1.5million in this particular project, which is set to realise a benefit to the local economy of some £25million over the next 20 years, which is an excellent return on our investment. Investing in growth is what this council is all about – making strategic investments which will grow our economy and attract private investment, jobs and people to the area.”
The pontoons provide flexible, 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 as well as commercial space for rent.
Councillor Elaine Robertson, Chair 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.
“Today we can take pride in what we have achieved together. Much of the workforce that created this wonderful facility, and delivered it on time and within budget, is Argyll-based – a testament to the considerable maritime expertise we have locally.
“It is also a day for confidence in the opportunities for growth that now exist for Oban and the surrounding area – the pontoons are already attracting hundreds of visitors into our shops and restaurants. The public realm works that the council has carried out in the town centre support the pontoons as a visitor attraction - it’s not enough simply to give people the option of coming ashore, we have to provide a warm welcome and the right environment for them. The recent building work has created a fabulous physical environment and we continue to build on our successful local partnerships to give visitors the warmest of welcomes. These are exciting times for Oban.”
Jennifer Nicoll, HIE area manager for Argyll and the Islands, said:
“It’s great to see the new pontoon open. These new facilities will contribute to Scotland’s marine tourism strategy, “Awakening the Giant”. They also help meet the need identified in the recent Sailing Tourism in Scotland report for more berthing facilities.
“The easy access for boaters to Oban town centre will enhance the area’s marine tourism offering and benefit the local economy, through increased visitor spend.”
Elaine Lauder from Oban Bay Marine said:
“We have an outstanding new facility Oban can be justifiably be proud of. On behalf of the Board and Members of the former Oban Bay Marine I want to congratulate the efforts and extraordinary commitment of the team who have succeeded in making this happen, and I want to wish this excellent facility all possible success.”
The council is grateful for the assistance of Bid4Oban, who will be operating the facility, in partnership during the first season.
Andrew Spence, Chief Executive of Bid4Oban, said:
We are delighted to be working in partnership with Argyll abd Bute Council in facilitating the new pontoons. The benefit of this addition to Oban’s infrastructure along with the recent public realm works to the town centre will make the town a far nicer place to visit. We are already realising the benefit with visiting cruise ships who now have far easier access to the town by using the facility. In particular visitors with mobility issues are now finding easy access to the town. We look forward to realising the full potential of the facility over the coming years.”
The ribbon was cut by Marley Squire and Innes Munro from Oban High School Pipe Band, Cathy MacGregor, wife of the late John MacGregor, director and driving force behind Oban Bay Marine, the local community group which invested time, money and effort into the research and development of the pontoons idea over many years and Marri Malloy, Chair of the Oban Community Council.
The project was delivered through of investment of £1.5million from Argyll and Bute Council, £300,000 HIE and £700,000 Scottish Government.