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Island residents relying on vital ferry services should not be ‘disadvantaged’ should tourism reopen on July 15.
That has been the call of John Finnie, the Scottish Green Party MSP for the Highlands and Islands.
He has raised concerns that residents who need the existing timetable service should not miss out if there is a fresh demand for tickets alongside reduced passengers numbers to fulfill social distancing rules.
It follows a statement to the Scottish Parliament yesterday by Fergus Ewing MSP, the cabinet secretary for tourism. Mr Ewing announced a provisional restart date for Scotland’s tourism industry – provided certain tests are met.
Mr Finnie welcomed the ‘indicative date’ but said it must be done ‘cautiously’ and that he had been given assurances that island residents would not be affected.
He said: ‘The tourism industry has been particularly hard hit by the current crisis but it essential we move slowly to prevent a further spike in COVID-19 cases.
‘The reopening of the tourism industry will of course put pressure on our ferries, presently operating an essential-lifeline-timetable service, so I am pleased that the cabinet secretary was able to acknowledge this point and will ensure that the residents of our islands will not be disadvantaged as we seek to reopen the islands for visitors.’