Clia, the UK Chamber of Shipping and leading Scottish travel agents have branded Scotland’s decision to ban cruise ship calls “disappointing and puzzling” in a letter urging the policy to be reconsidered.
The Scottish government denied MSC Virtuosa the right to dock in Greenock less than 36 hours before the vessel was scheduled to arrive – confirming an effective ban until the country reaches its lowest Covid restriction level.
The move has forced cruise lines ready to sail round-UK itineraries this summer to amend any Scotland-bound itineraries.
The letter includes signatures from Clia UK and Ireland director Andy Harmer, UK Chamber of Shipping chief executive Bob Sanguinetti, SPAA president Joanne Dooey and Barrhead Travel boss Jacqueline Dobson.
In it, the group expresses its disappointment at the decision and argues the economic need for cruising to be allowed – stating in 2019, “almost 900 cruise ships calls were made to the Highlands and Islands, each generating over £100,000 for the local economy.”
The group also calls on the Scottish government “to clarify what more needs to be done” to enable cruise calls to be restarted.
“It [the cruise ban] is disappointing because the cruise sector is a major contributor to the Scottish economy, providing essential revenue for our beleaguered hospitality industry, including travel agents, restaurants, bars, tour operators, tourist attractions and hotels, many of which are small businesses,” says the letter.
“It is puzzling because cruises have safely restarted around Britain. Stringent health protocols, put in place to protect local communities at cruise destinations, passengers, and crew, go beyond any other travel sector operating today. Scottish ports have been working closely with cruise lines for several months and have developed onshore protocols to safely manage ship arrivals.
“These are cruises carrying only UK residents travelling only between UK ports. We are therefore calling on the government to clarify what more needs to be done to enable cruise passengers – many of whom are from Scotland – to visit our shores and allow Scotland to be part of the British staycation summer.”