Transport and Tourism in the Hebrides by Christopher Dillon.

Christopher (born 5 August 1952) of Class 3A, Daliburgh Junior Secondary School, won the Flora MacDonald Memorial Prize with this essay in 1967.

Transport and tourism in the Hebrides is a topical subject these days. Boards and committees have been set up to find ways and means of improving transport and other facilities for the tourist, and for dealing with their complaints.

Of course, tourism is, during the summer time. the most important industry in the Hebrides. The Islands will benefit by this industry, as it will create more work and therefore help to arrest the depopulation which plagues the Islands.

Naturally, the spread of the tourist industry in the Hebrides was inevitable. The Islands have so much to give to holidaymakers in way of their long Celtic tradition, their history and pre-history, Jacobite and Norse associations, sport, scenery and wildlife. Surely there must be few places with so much to offer?

To ensure that our tourist industry expands we must take certain measures in order to make sure that the visitor will be well satisfied. The chief amongst these concerns accommodation and transport and since people in the centres of population are just finding out all the Islands have to offer, we may be sure that, unless improvements will be made in the near future, our transport and accommodation will not be able to cope with the influx of visitors.

Accommodation is quite difficult to find at the present moment. If more tourists come, and no attempt is made to improve our accommodation problem, then many will be left without a place to stay in; and, naturally, they will never return. New hotels will have to be built, and crofters encouraged to take holidaymakers in for the night. The crofters also will allow caravans to be parked on their crofts; but only if they receive proper encouragement. in simple words, we must do our very best to ensure the tourist is satisfied.

For a long time travel was hindered by the many dangers that went with it. Nowadays the greatly improved transport system has changed all this; and a new problem has arisen, namely, that our means of transport are overcrowded. Of course, this problem one usually hears of as being in large cities; but the self-same problem may arise in the Hebrides, if we do not attempt to improve our own transport system.

The car-ferries certainly carry more people and their cars to the Islands; but what of the roads? Are they able to cope? The main road in South Uist consists of only a single-lane, and already I feel it has become inadequate. The pier at Lochboisdale has been improved to admit another car-ferry, but the road has not been touched. Congestion will, therefore, become another complaint from the holidaymakers.

Signposting is another problem. Places of interest are not signposted; or put on a map; and so the visitor might miss some important aspect. The road, too, is inadequately signposted, and what few warning signs there are are of the old type; and this might become confusing to holidaymakers.

All in all, we must do our utmost to ensure that the tourist is well satisfied: so that we may be sure of a flourishing industry that will benefit not only the Hebrides but the nation as a whole.