Dear readers and followers, I'd like to wish you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year. I realise my Islay Blog has been quiet in December, this was due to a huge workload and some very necessary time off. However, we are now starting up again and behind the scenes is enough going on to make 2019 an exciting year but more about that later here.
2019 will again be a busier, tourism wise, than the previous years. This is a trend that's continuing for as long as I'm webmaster of the Islay Info website and it's confirmed by many tourism related folk I talk to on Islay. The tourist season is stretching and more and more visitors find their way to Islay in months which hardly saw any visitors some 15 years ago.
With the expansion of the current Islay Distilleries and the construction of new distilleries whisky tourism will also get an extra boost. Almost every distillery on Islay is either increasing capacity and/or working on providing a better service for their visitors, think for instance of the recently accounced plans for a state of the art visitor centre at Caol-Ila distillery. This is also the year that Ardnahoe Distillery will open its doors for visitors and Elixir Distillers have submitted revised plans for Farkin Distillery, between Port Ellen and Laphroaig, with underground warehousing for their new venture. And last but not least, work will begin this year on the Diageo site at Port Ellen with the reconstruction of Port Ellen Distillery. Read more...
The number of beds on Islay for tourists has increased lately, especially with the opening of The Machrie, although I have the idea that the number of tourists visiting Islay is growing faster than the increase in new properties. Perhaps that's one of the reasons for the season to stretch. One thing is certain, for those visiting Islay now is a great time to book your accommodation before your preferred period and/or property are no longer available.
Hopefully infrastructure and local services will be able to cope with the increased demand and increasing number of visitors. Calmac has made some changes to the maintenance periods of both ferries which will hopefully result in normal sailings around the start of the Summer Schedule and the beginning of the tourist season in April. As far as I know we won't see a new ferry for the Islay service anytime soon so we'll have to rely on the MV Finlaggan and the Hebridean Isles for now. This year will also see the introduction of direct flights between Edinburgh and Islay Airport which will probably be very successful.
There is also good news for walkers and cyclists. I've recently been told that plans for the new footpath between Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich has been approved as well as the necessary funds, so work will hopefully commence in spring this year!
And there is one last thing.... The Islay Development Initiative will start the Friends of Islay Scheme this year so hopefully I will be able to give you some more information on that anytime soon. Watch this space!
For now I'd like to wish you all a great year in which you'll hopefully find your way to Islay to enjoy all the beautiful things this wonderful island has to offer, and there are many, anytime of the year. Below is a video from a friend who lives in Moscow. He composed a lovely song dedicated to Islay's great whiskies set in a wintry scene. Enjoy :-)