ForArgyll posted an interesting article today about the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) Pilot in the west of Scotland. Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) is a system where the fares of a ferry crossing are more or less equivalent to travelling the same distance over land, which means on average 40 to 70% lower fares for lorries, passengers and cars. The pilot started a few years ago and was initially only available in the Western Isles and a few other islands. This meant that these islands had lower ferry fares and as a consequence more visitors, which is good for the economy of these islands. Most islands in Argyll didn't join the pilot which meant ferry fares were same as usual.
When Islay joins the RET pilot it means that fery fares will lower with 40 to 70% which is great for the local economy and its visitors. ForArgyll: "A major thrust of the announcement today will have a major impact on the Argyll islands, which will progressively benefit from a series of new RET pilot schemes which will start from October 2012. These are the results of the success of the western Isles pilot which has seen journey numbers boosted by up to 31%. Colonsay, Islay and Gigha will be the first to be piloted in the new round, starting from October 2012. This will include the following route: (Colonsay) Oban-Colonsay-Port Askaig-Kennacraig; (Gigha) Tayinloan-Gigha; and (Islay) Kennacraig-Port Askaig/Port Ellen.
Argyll and Buteâ€™s MSP, Michael Russell is over the moon at the decision and at the opportunities for growth and regeneration it creates for the islands. He says: â€˜This announcement will make a huge difference to all of the island communities in Argyll & Bute. Highlands and Islands MSP, Mike Mackenzie, a resident of one of a group of Argyll islands not included in the scheme, presumably because they are close inshore â€“ the Slate Islands â€“ has also welcomed the announcement, saying: â€˜This is a fantastic announcement from the Scottish Government that will further boost tourism and local business. â€˜Anyone who has used a ferry to the Western Isles or who runs a tourist business knows what difference lower prices have made. Passenger numbers are up 20%, car journeys up by 31% and there has been a 24% increase in room occupancy in the Western Isles.