Holidaying on the Isle of Wight

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Sandown beach

the pier at Sandown. Are the tourists not here because of the high priced ferry fares?

When I was growing up in the south of Hampshire, one school treat we looked forward to was to the Isle of Wight. It meant the beach with different coloured sands, Carisbrooke Castle and a ferry trip.

Could I afford it today? I’m not sure given what was mentioned in the House of Commons last week. Andrew Turner, the MP for the island pointed out that sometimes the fare was £200. Sometimes it was cheaper to buy a package holiday for a few days than just but the ferry ride because it was cheaper.

Nine million people use the ferries each year to cross to and from the island. How many more would travel if the fares were cheaper?

Turner pointed out that ferries in Scotland run by Caledonian McBrayne are subsidised with public money and ferries in and around the Channel Islands are also limited in what they can do to raise prices. Trains receive government support so why not a ferry. It is a necessary convience for visitors and islanders as there is no other way of reaching it, the airport at Bembridge having no commercial services.But those living on the Isle of Wight have no such protection. And they – and visitors – must pay whatever the ferries and hovercraft services  charge. Both are owned by conglomerates with little ferry experience but lots of accountancy background. Is it any wonder then that they are out to seek a return on their investment?

The minister, John Hayes, addressed absolutely none of these points when he replied opting to talk about modernising ferry terminals, housing construction and acting as a facilitator to bring all parties together to discuss long-term transport solutions. That isn’t going to encourage visitors. Perhaps the tourism or communities minister should have replied to Mr Turner instead.

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