Cowal Games make an important contribution to the economy of Cowal and in
In 2010 when the town centre ferry service still transported vehicles some
10866 passengers were carried on Cowal Games Saturday by Cowal Ferries
Ltd. a subsidiary of the Scottish Government owned David MacBrayne Ltd.
In July 2011 the crossing was taken over by Argyll Ferries Ltd, also a
subsidiary of David MacBrayne Ltd, it became passenger only and the
passenger numbers fell sharply to 6978 a drop of 35.9%.
There was a further signifcant decline in 2012 to 5974 passengers. In 2013
this trend continued with numbers dropping to 5721 just 52% of those being
carried in 2010.
Unfortunately in 2013 the Cowal Gathering lost it status as a ‘major’ pipe
band competion. The reduction in ferry access to the town for vehicles was
a contributory factor in the loss of status. The reduced ferry capacity
meant both judges and bands were uncertain about queue times for vehicle
ferries and a number chose to drive “the long way round”. Spectator
numbers had fallen and the town itself was noticeably quieter.
As a result of losing ‘major’ status just 24 bands attended the
2014 gathering, compared with the previous norm of 130-150. Losing the
bands themselves will have resulted in a significant loss of revenue for
the town. The Gathering made a valient attempt to widen its appeal however
passenger numbers on Argyll Ferries plunged once more to 3,743 just 34% of
those carried in 2010.
Almost two thirds of the passengers attending the event on the Saturday
have disappeared since the town centre service was downgraded to passenger