Complaints Rise Over Out-Of-Season Openings

St Martin's was criticised by Councillors

Visitors to the islands are unhappy about the low number of businesses that are open out-of-season.

The Council’s Tourism Lead, Julian Pearce, told Councillors at yesterday’s Tourism Board meeting that the numbers of visitors in October had been good this year, with a decent bird watching season and half term holiday.

However, the TIC had received complaints from visitors who found businesses closed during this period.

He said this was giving the impression that the islands “were closed from mid September” and businesses needed to work together to present Scilly as a package.

Councillor Marian Bennett said several years ago they had tried to introduce an opening and closing date for the season, built around the Scillonian sailing from March to October, but it was difficult to make businesses follow that.

She suggested that inclusion in the Simply Scilly brochure could be dependent on a guarantee to open for the full season although she admitted this was a draconian way to go about it.

She said it was unacceptable for businesses to “cream off the best of the season” then have a negative impact during the shoulder periods.

Committee Chair, Chris Saville, said St Martin’s has been particularly bad this year. She said there was a situation in October when 70 people arrived on the island and the only place to get a cup of tea was from the machine at the Post Office.

However, Councillor Richard McCarthy said some islands were doing more than others. On St Agnes, businesses had stayed open throughout October. Even in mid November, he said, the Coastguards Café had opened specially for a group of visitors from the Atlantic Hotel, adding that sometimes, all that’s required is a phone call.

Councillor Chris Hopkins said it “shouldn’t be beyond the wit” of our TIC to have a ring around to see who’s open and to liaise with boatmen.

He said it can be difficult, especially on the off-islands, to sit around waiting for visitors to arrive and no one comes.

Julian also told members that this year had seen a marked increase in first-time visitors and it was important to provide as much information as possible for these people.

He said Scilly could sometimes be seen as a “club”, where regular visitors know what’s happening and the TIC needs to make sure first time visitors see everything that the islands have to offer.

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