It’s Easter: stay and shiver, or fly to the sun?

FROM hotels that have coped without power for close to a week to check-in staff braced for a late surge of sunseekers, businesses and tourist attractions have been making final preparations in the hope the wintry weather will not deter Easter getaways.

Airports across Scotland are expecting more than 100,000 departures between today and Tuesday, as travel agents report “strong demand” for last-minute overseas holidays.

It comes as work continues around the clock to restore power to swaths of western and south-western Scotland badly affected by last week’s storms.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Tourism bodies stressed that, despite the blackouts suffered on Arran, the traditional staycation favourite would be “open for business” over the weekend.

Edinburgh airport said more than 51,000 passengers were due to depart between today and Monday, with nearly 80,000 between yesterday and Tuesday.

Glasgow airport expects up to 75,000 passengers, with popular destinations including the Canary and Balearic islands, Turkey, Dubai and Florida.

AA spokesman Gavin Hill-Smith warned drivers could expect “localised congestion” on main routes to airports given the spike in last-minute holiday bookings, but said many people were likely to spend Easter at home.

He said a survey of its members found 23 per cent of Scots had definite plans to drive on holiday or on an outing during the weekend, the equivalent of about 1.6 million cars on the roads. However, the survey was carried out last week, before the latest bad weather.

On Arran, meanwhile, engineers from energy firm SSE continued to try to restore power to properties, after suffering a setback following problems with two mobile generators at Blackwaterfoot and Dippen.

Having reduced the number of properties still off the grid to just 350, it rocketed to about 1,200 late on Wednesday following “technical problems”.

However, the firm brought in three additional large mobile generators and, as of yesterday evening, only about 100 customers were awaiting reconnection. It hoped to restore power to those homes by the end of the night. All homes in Kintyre were reconnected yesterday.

SSE said: “The main transmission repair on Kintyre, and the associated lines which provide power to homes in Kintyre and through the subsea cables to Arran, is progressing very well. We have dismantled the collapsed towers and steelwork and removed damaged conductors.

“We hope to move homes from mobile generation to the main network in phases by area over Friday and Saturday. This may result in customers experiencing a short loss of power of between 30 minutes and one hour.”

Tourism chiefs expect no drop in the number of Easter visitors to Arran. North Ayrshire Council leader Willie Gibson said as many as 10,000 were expected to descend on the island.

A spokesman for Auchrannie Resort, in Brodick, said: “We’re looking pretty much full from Good Friday through to next Thursday.”

However, Steve Wood, of the Sannox Bay Hotel, criticised SSE. He said: “One minute we were being told that things are back to normal and we could open our restaurant and bar. The next minute we were being told by the electricity company that we must not open up to the public under any circumstances.