Meet the Glasgow man who drives Islay’s first tuk tuk taxi

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The colorful transport is more often seen on the streets of Asian countries, but one has now made an appearance on Islay.

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A bright green and yellow tuk tuk isn’t a sight you’d expect to see on a Scottish island, but for Islay Tuk Tuk owner Calum there are similarities between Asia and Islay.

Addressing the Scot Podcast Screen, Calum explains why he created his company: “I traveled a lot in India in 2008 and in 2010 I was on vacation in Sri Lanka and I traveled a lot by tuk tuk. I was looking at the roads and thought ‘some of the roads in Islay are actually worse than in India and Sri Lanka’. I think tuk tuks would do just fine there. I also thought tourists would like to travel by tuk tuk on Islay because you can connect more with nature, and it’s just fun.”

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The vehicle came from the not-so-exotic location of Yorkshire and in 2019 Calum set up his business, Islay Tuk Tuk. But it took the council a while to give him a taxi license and then Covid hit so he just got started. This is good because at the end of May saw the return of Feis Island Festivaland Calum’s tuk tuk was a popular mode of transport for those traveling between events and distilleries.

The most popular

“It’s been huge,” Callum de Feis said. ” I was really busy. On Laphroaig day, I was just constant from 9 am to 11 pm. People really enjoy the festival and travel by tuk tuk.

When presenting Callum to the council for a license, he explained how he wanted to bring something new, saying, “It was like going into Dragons’ Den with all the councillors. But I was prepared with statistics and information on Scottish tourism and the return trade to Islay.

“Of course you get your whiskey pilgrims, but when they come year after year, I wanted to offer something different (to these visitors).” Calum’s aim is to offer tours of Islay and the Jura, but it can also be requested as a normal taxi.

For those worried about inclement weather or gnats, the tuk tuk has clear plastic sides that are secured with velcro and an eye-catching interior with tartan and lights. “The west coast of Scotland can be quite wet so the council was keen to know how I was going to keep my customers dry,” Calum explained.

As tourism picks up in Islay, Calum enjoys seeing visitors again and chatting with people, and finds the tuk tuk breaking the ice. “So many people are really happy to be here and just want to talk and (in the tuk tuk) there are no social barriers that you might find in other situations. They are really engaged and want to explore.

For more information on Islay Tuk Tuk or to book a tour, which can also include a picnic basket from a local company, visit www.islaytuktuk.co.uk

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