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New study reveals economic impact of CalMac services

Ferry operator is key contributor to communities across Scotland

A major new study by the highly respected Fraser of Allander Institute has outlined the scale of CalMac Ferries' contribution to the Scottish economy.   Read the whole report here. [750KB] .

The report, which was unveiled at the Scottish Transport Conference in Edinburgh today (28th April 2015) examines the operations of the award-winning ferry and port operator in detail, revealing that it supports* a total turnover of nearly £270 million in companies across Scotland.

It also confirms that CalMac, one of the largest companies headquartered in Scotland and the UK's largest ferry network operator, employs 1476 people and supports a total of 5883 jobs in mainland and island communities across the country.

In addition, the £41 million paid in salaries to CalMac's Scottish employees supports a total of £85 million worth of wages in Scotland.

Amongst other key findings are that the company is the main channel of support for commercial activity on the islands, carrying 92,734 commercial vehicles in 2014.

The report highlights, in particular, CalMac's extensive support for island and remote communities, via the essential lifeline and logistical services it delivers.

In key Scottish island and rural locations CalMac employs (by local authority area):

  • 281 people in the Argyll and Bute Council area, spending nearly £8m on wages

  • 184 people in the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar area, spending £5m on wages

  • 148 people in the Highland Council area, spending more than £4m on wages


The report also details CalMac's contribution to tourism on the islands and calculates the extent to which its support for tourist activity creates economic growth.

It estimates that:

  • CalMac enables** 3,247 jobs in island tourism

  • CalMac enables £53.4m worth of wages in island tourism


CalMac is headquartered in Inverclyde and the report shows that, as one of region's key businesses, directly employs 169 people and in 2014 injected more than £9m into the local economy.


The report also shows that:

  • CalMac employees have a total of more than 20,000 years of experience

  • Average wages at CalMac are 12% higher than the average wage in Scotland

  • The company carried 4.6 million passengers in 2014

The report was carried out by Stewart Dunlop, research fellow at the Fraser of Allander Institute. He commented: "The key findings of this study are estimates of CalMac's economic impact, both on Scotland as a whole and on specific areas. For the latter, we focused on estimating how CalMac supports 'lifeline' economic activity on Scottish islands.

"The study also looks at a range of other impacts encompassing tourism, support for local businesses and performance. The results demonstrate that the company's activity in transporting tourists to the islands has a very considerable effect on the local tourism industry.

"CalMac is clearly the key channel of support for commercial activity on the islands it serves.

"Items exported from the islands include food and drink products, notably high value exports such as whisky and shellfish, both of which contribute significantly to total Scottish exports.

"In terms of imports, CalMac's activity covers the majority of items sold by local retailers, including fuel, food, mail, medical supplies, oil, gas, and utilities, without which it would be difficult to maintain an acceptable quality of life on the islands."

Martin Dorchester, managing director of CalMac Ferries Ltd, said: "We see our role as being to deliver the highest possible value to the island and mainland communities we serve by the investment we make in people, in the transport sector and in the Scottish economy as a whole.

"That value can only be delivered effectively by ensuring that we go beyond simply being a transport provider. That means delivering essential, lifeline services which provide access to work, education and health services, help people maintain contact with family and friends and ensure supplies of fresh food, fuel and mail to local people.

"It also means enabling our island and mainland businesses to make the most effective contribution possible to Scotland's economy by keeping supply chains open and transporting their goods and services efficiently to market.

"We must also ensure that we do all we can to assist Scotland's tourism sector by ensuring easy access and an enjoyable experience for the thousands of tourists who are so vital to many island economies and support local accommodation, food and attractions providers.

"Our aim is to add value to our contract across all these areas such as employment, tourism and supplier spend, which lies behind our commitment to employing local people in our island communities and to supporting the Inverclyde area which continues to face economic challenges."

"The Fraser of Allander's report outlines in detail the extent of the contribution which CalMac's people and operations make to Scotland's economy across all these key areas. As we move forward, our ambition is to further enhance our support for the communities we serve and continue our investment in customer service."


* CalMac supports jobs and wages through its own spending and enables jobs in the islands because transporting tourists allows other sectors on the islands to do business with tourists.

**enabled impact is defined as an impact which allows others to create economic activity.


Notes to editors:

1) Further information about CalMac is available at

2) Caledonian MacBrayne and CalMac are trading names of CalMac Ferries Ltd (CFL). Caledonian MacBrayne, CalMac and the lion rampant device are registered trademarks of Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) and are used under licence by CalMac Ferries Ltd.



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