THE innovative specialist cruise company, The Majestic Line, has been named ‘Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year’ at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards.
The judges said: “The Majestic Line was awarded top marks for every criterion in this category and was chosen because of the scale and originality of its endeavour. What caught the judges’ imagination was the scale and audacity of the entrepreneurship improving year on year as the business develops, adapts and innovates.”
The Majestic Line vessels cruise the coastlines of Argyll and the Inner Hebrides, each carrying 11 passengers, providing an unique and unforgettable experience for the guests.
The business idea was born when Andy Thoms and Ken Grant, both just turned 60, were in a pub in Sheildaig reading an article about the decommissioning of the Scottish fishing fleet and condemning the senseless breaking-up of beautifully constructed traditional fishing boats. They hatched the idea of turning the trawlers into mini-cruise vessels.
Then followed the typical entrepreneurial cliché: since there was no paper to be had, they sketched the idea out on a beermat and resolved to carry it through. They have often said that, had the beermat in the pub in Sheildaig had been any bigger, the risks might have become more apparent and they may not have had the confidence to continue; and the venture, which is now a great success, would not have been born.
Andy Thoms said: “Our vision was to introduce people to the fabulous scenery and food of Argyll with our crew providing genuine, warm Scottish hospitality. The atmosphere on board is informal and fun; the majority of our first-time guests have never been to Scotland before and many are overwhelmed by the experience. Some return as often as eight times to cruise with us again.”
The main ambition now is to take advantage of a clear niche in the tourism marketplace and build the third vessel and ultimately aim for a fleet of five. Recycling a trawler is now not an option as they are no longer available; the company is planning to provide a Scottish boatyard with an order for a new boat and is actively seeking finance.