Cruise industry halted by Covid-19 'will cost Scotland £108m'

Highlands and Islands among areas to suffer from sharp downturn on expected 918,000 passengers this year.

The 5,700-passenger MSC Meraviglia at Invergordon on the Cromarty Firth.
The 5,700-passenger MSC Meraviglia at Invergordon on the Cromarty Firth.

The fast-growing sector had expected to see 801 cruises call at Scottish ports this year, with each generating more than £100,000 for the economy.

This includes through providing business for taxi firms, coach operators and food suppliers and port services.

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A total of 918,000 passengers had been expected – 15 per cent more than last year after a 20 per cent rise on 2018 .

No revised estimates for this year are yet available.

But industry body Maritime UK said the Highlands and Islands, where one in ten Scottish cruises start, stood to lose more than £28m alone.

Chair Harry Theochari said: “Scotland is a leader in the UK when it comes to cruise, with so many ships starting and finishing their voyages there.

“Given that key role, the economic hit from cruise business being on hold is substantial.

“It will be felt by thousands of people across the country.

“The good news is cruise will be ready to resume operations when it is safe to do so, and it is therefore important government backs the sector as a driver of economic growth to aid the recovery.”

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Mr Theochari said cruise lines were planning to introduce further enhanced health measures to safeguard passengers and the communities visited by cruise ships.

Robert Mason, chairman of the Cruise Scotland marketing organisation, said: “Ports and communities around the Scottish mainland and islands are feeling the full impact of Covid-19 which has brought a dynamic, growth industry to a full stop at a time of record contributions to the Scottish economy.

“We are fully engaged with the Scottish Government and stakeholders.

“Everything possible needs to be done to support the extensive network which makes up our cruise industry to ensure it is positioned to rebuild activity to peak levels when appropriate health and safety measures are implemented by all involved, including vessel operators.”

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