WHY SHELL OUT FOR THE SEYCHELLES; Hebrides Beat Paradise Islands in Holiday Survey

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THEY don't have the endless sunshine of the Seychelles or the warm waters of the Caribbean.

But the Hebrides - gales, stormy seas, midges and all - have been named as the world's second most desirable island holiday venue.

A new survey says the isles off Scotland's west coast provide the ultimate escape from urban life without having to leave for more exotic locations.

Only one island, in the Bahamas, beats them and they are ranked ahead of the Seychelles, Capri and Mauritius.

Survey compiler Pamela Goodman, travel editor of House & Garden magazine, said yesterday: "I spent most of my school summer holidays on Tiree and I've since travelled the world.

"So I know what I'm talking about when I refer to the unrivalled beauty that is special to the Hebrides.

"The colours are breathtaking, with scenery that can be dramatic and romantic.

"No one compiling a list of the world's top 10 holiday islands can ignore what the Hebrides offer.

"There are worries about air travel since September 11 and our holiday trade has suffered.

"I hope the elevation of the Hebrides gives Scotland's tourist trade a much-needed boost."

Ecosse Unique, who cater for island tourists, say their clients are spellbound at the thought of being isolated somewhere in the Hebrides.

Island adviser Mark Breed said: "Islands provide a sanctuary of sheer peace for those who want to get away from the hustle and hassle of town life.

"Visitors can walk freely among wild land and sea birds as well as seeing roving deer and all kinds of wildlife from foxes to otters. …