Telephone booking line ‘sours’ Gobbins

Gobbins cliff path
Gobbins cliff path

A Lurgan man says his perception of The Gobbins has been “soured” after he was left unable to book a guided tour over the telephone.

The would-be visitor, who did not wish to be named, told the Times that he spent two days trying to reserve places at the flagship tourism destination, but was left disappointed when the phones weren’t answered.

“We had been looking to go last Friday and I rang them quite a few times on Wednesday and Thursday,” he revealed.

“It didn’t come up as engaged, there was a message to say they were busy and could I ring back later.

“It seemed there was no-one answering the phone, they didn’t even put us in a queue to get through to someone.”

Later that week, the man dropped into the visitors’ centre.

“The receptionist apologised and said she would put us on the cancellation list,” he said.

“My main concern is that this is improved for the sake of the receptionist and the undue stress which has been loaded onto her.

“When we were there there was a girl from Coleraine who had driven down as she had been trying to book over the phone all week and couldn’t. It’s not a very good system.”

The frustrated tourist believes the difficulties make the facility seem “amateurish” to visitors.

“They put a lot of effort into advertising it, so you expect to be able to talk to someone to find out if you can book,” he said.

The Gobbins’ tour booking system is currently operating through telephone booking. Chief Executive Anne Donaghy told councillors at a meeting on September 9 that testing of the online booking system had been finalised and that she “hoped it will be available in the next two weeks.”

Mrs Donaghy revealed there had been an issue with the computer server which services The Gobbins.

“The server was removed before Larne Borough Council wound up and we were unaware a server was needed,” she said.

A council report says that The Gobbins Cliff Top Path, which will be free to access, is nearing completion with the contractor indicating it will be finished by mid-September.