By Rory Murphy
The first of two cruise ships that will provide accommodation for people attending the COP26 summit has arrived in the River Clyde.
The Latvian-flagged Romantika has berthed at King George V dock, next to Braehead Shopping Centre in Renfrew. A second vessel, the MS Silja Europa, will arrive from Estonia in the coming days.
Up to 25,000 government representatives, media and campaigners are expected to be in Glasgow, and entertainment businesses – restaurants and the like – in the Loch Lomond National Park area are expected to benefit from extra business.
Concerns have been raised about the cost and availability of accommodation in the city for the climate summit, which takes place from 31 October until 12 November.
Rip off Glasgow is already being widely discussed along with fears that the two ships will be targeted by “ladies of the night” looking for “business”with the delegates.
Paavo Nõgene, chief executive of the ship owner Tallink, described the decision to bring a second ship to Scotland as a “last-minute agreement”.
Each member of the United Nations has been invited to Glasgow, meaning nearly 120 heads of state are expected to attend along with around 20,000 accredited delegates.
Soaring property prices
Meanwhile, BBC Scotland has found evidence that a squeeze on available accommodation has sent prices soaring in Glasgow.
One room in the city advertised as £42 per night on Monday is being advertised as costing £1,400 per night during the summit.
Fiona Hooker, of the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland campaign, said the cost and availability of accommodation was “a huge concern” for activists attending the summit.
She said: “It’s incredible that they can charge so much.
“What people are looking for is a place to stay with a local person and the chance to feel part of the event.”
Restaurateur and property owner Charan Gill, who became known as Glasgow’s “Curry King” and is one of the country’s top entrepreneurs, called the practice “opportunistic”.
He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Drivetime with John Beattie that he would not increase rents because it was damaging to the city’s reputation.
“Sometimes you have to pay a premium,” he said. “But there has to be some sort of moral compass where we say surely this is wrong.
“You will not live off this money forever – fine, you might make an extra few hundred or thousand pounds here and there. At the end of the day you have to go back to your normal people, your normal market, your normal tenants who keep your bread buttered.”
Airbnb told the BBC they would donate all revenue from stays in Glasgow during the summit to Zero Waste Scotland.
Meanwhile, there are reports that thousands of people who want to come to Glasgow to take part in the UN climate summit are struggling to find somewhere to stay amid an accommodation shortage and soaring prices.
Almost Scottish 700 households have already signed up to welcome visiting delegates or campaigners giving them a room or bed for COP26.
COP26 Homestay Network is like a not-for-profit Airbnb encouraging families to offer a place to stay for free or for a low price.
Leanne Clelland is looking forward to hosting a German translator in her home with her husband and three boys.
“It will be inconvenient and we could sit on the edge of COP and get bogged down in the logistics of it and I didn’t want that to happen to us.
“If we have somebody coming and staying and offering them hospitality then we can feel in the middle of this moment.”