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<font color='#0000FF'>I was talking to someone at our club last night and he was telling me he had spoken to the B & B where they stayed this year and next year they are full up.  I have just found this on BBC website.  So if your planning a trip to Tobermory next year you need to get in quick.  

Balamory success story

By Martin Collier
BBC News Online Scotland  

Tobermory is the setting for the series
Runaway ratings for a hit children's television show have created a toddler tourism phenomenon in a west of Scotland town.

The CBeebies' programme Balamory, where PC Plum is joined by a cast of characters including Edie McCredie and Miss Hoolie, is filmed on Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull.

The town's brightly coloured houses provide an ideal backdrop for the characters' adventures in the CBeebies programme.

Balamory, which attracts some 400,000 young viewers, has proved such a success that an academic at Stirling University is now asking - in the words of the programme's song - What's the story in Balamory?

 I don't think the BBC realised what it was doing when they set it in a tiny wee village. It's phenomenal

Alison Dugdale
Shop owner  
Dr Joanne Connell explained: "With Mull's rapid transformation into a must-see destination for families, the effects for local businesses need to be firmly understood in order to plan and manage potential growth."

Penny Pocket and friends have sparked a new economic phenomenon - toddler tourism.

Hundreds of parents are bringing their children to visit the fictional home of their favourite characters.

Tourism chiefs say visitor numbers have doubled, as parents give in to little people power.

The sudden influx, though, has not been wholeheartedly endorsed by all the townspeople of Tobermory

Fears have been expressed that the narrow streets are unable to cope with rocketing numbers of pint-sized Balamory groupies, and complaints have been made about tourists knocking on townspeople's doors.

One guest house owner said: "The main street is absolutely lethal anyway, let alone with all these extra children about. It is not geared up for this amount of traffic.

PC Plum signs autographs
"I don't think Tobermory was able to cope with the volume of traffic this year. It's the safety aspect that bothers me."

She added: "I've had families coming to me, looking for rooms late at night - even though I've had my No Vacancies sign up. I'm sure there have been a few instances when they have slept in their car."

The story of Balamory, though - like all children's tales - may have a happy ending after all.

Enterprising islanders are starting to cash in on Balamory-mania.

Alison Dugdale is making the most of a gaping hole in the market by producing Balamory merchandise, like T-shirts and sweatshirts from the back of her seafront shop - and she cannot keep up with demand.

'Wonderful for Mull'

She said: "It's huge. Huge. I don't think the BBC realised what it was doing when they set it in a tiny wee village. It's phenomenal."

Leisure bosses, too, are rubbing their hands at their unexpected windfall - while also wishing there were more goodies for Balamory's tiny fans to take home.

Manager of the Mull Tourist Office, Maureen Dehany, said: "The problem is no merchandise for visitors when they get here. They are expecting more. Everyone likes a souvenir."

But she added: "It's great. Balamory brought so much business to the island this summer, and it's still going on. It's big business. It's wonderful for Mull, just wonderful."

 People tend to arrive in Tobermory and just step into the road without looking

Alistair MacDougall
Mull councillor  
Alistair MacDougall, independent councillor for Mull and Iona, said he was aware of the roads issue.

He told BBC News Online: "We're going to have to look at the problems in Tobermory. I'm hoping to meet officials shortly to arrange a visit to the town to see how the situation can be improved.

"People tend to arrive in Tobermory and just step into the road without looking.

"They don't do it in Glasgow or London, so I don't see why they should do it here.

"We are looking at a pedestrian crossing, but whether people use it or not is a different matter."

English school holidays are just starting and Mull is bracing itself for the ferry from Oban to deliver a new invasion of Balamory tourists. For PC Plum, leave has been cancelled.
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