STA responds to Scottish Government announcement of delay to delivery of new fleet for Scotland’s ferry network
Commenting on the Scottish Government’s announcement that the two vessels currently being built will not be delivered until next summer and spring 2020, Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance said;
The announcement of further delays in the delivery of the two newly commissioned CalMac vessels is beyond disappointing. The STA has raised frequent concerns to Cabinet Ministers and Transport Scotland regarding the provision of the existing fleet in terms of capacity and the fact that these ships are ageing, with a slow pipeline of replacement.
Ian Fordham, Chair of Outer Hebrides Tourism (OHT), one of destination organisations that sits on the STA Member Council has also been very active in highlighting and communicating what has now become unacceptable situation causing a barrier to growing tourism in the Islands in recent weeks to senior officials politicians and the media. There is critical urgency for increased ferry capacity on Hebridean routes to service the demand by visitors who wish to visit, stay and explore the islands and visitor attractions.
The vast majority of ferries assigned to these routes are currently running at full capacity in an already stretched network and tourism operators and accommodation providers are being left with no option but to turn away business as a result of there being no space to travel.
The STA would urge Michael Mathieson MSP in his new transport brief, along with Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Culture and External Affairs to address this matter with priority importance. We would also ask that the departments act quickly on the recommendations and proposals that have already been presented and discussed by our OHT associates with the previous transport minister, which at the very least would alleviate some of the pressure on demand.
As we head towards to 2020 which will be promoted as the Year of Scotland’s Coast and Waters, demand and interest to travel and explore our islands is only likely to increase and it is essential that Scotland is seen to be offering our national ferry fleet at full strength.
This week’s announcement serves as a huge let down for our island communities and tourism businesses.