Ministers urged to rapidly reinstate international cruises from Scotland after decision delayed until after English restart

Travel agents today called for the swift reinstatement of international cruises from Scotland or risk further economic harm after it emerged a decision will not be made until at least next week despite their resumption in England on Monday.

The Scottish Government defended the delay to its next “review point” on Tuesday by saying that permitting sailings had to be considered along with the relaxation of other Covid restrictions, even though it meant a break with a four-nations approach.

However, the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association was upset that cruise ships were again losing out in Scotland after UK cruises were not allowed to call north of the Border until last week – two months after England.

President Joanne Dooey said: “Recently, we have seen better co-ordination of a four nations’ approach to the restart of international travel, so it’s disappointing that once again cruise is being treated differently.

MSC Virtuosa was barred from docking in Greenock in June because the Scottish Government continued its ban on UK cruises after they were permitted to resume in England

“The cruise industry is of particular importance to the Scottish travel sector.

"According to VisitScotland, more than 800 jobs are supported by the Scottish cruise industry and more than £23 million GVA (gross value added) to the Scottish economy.

"A VisitScotland report in December 2020 shows Scottish ports serve 27 cruise liners operating 67 vessels.

"The cruise sector support jobs in some of the most rural parts of Scotland in the Highlands and Islands.

Scottish Passenger Agents' Association president Joanne Dooey called for the Scottish Government to "expedite the announcement of the restart of cruising”

"Pre-Covid forecasts for 2020 predicted more than 1 million cruise passengers.

"In 2019, over £40 million was spent directly onshore in Scotland by cruise passengers.”

“The non-adoption of a four nations’ approach to the restart of cruise is risking all of these benefits for our economy and we trust the Scottish Government will expedite the announcement of the restart of cruising.”

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Covid Scotland: UK-only cruise ship MSC Virtuosa ‘barred from docking in Greenoc...

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Domestic cruise was able to restart in Scotland from July 19, in line with Scottish Government guidance.

"We are aware of the UK Government’s announcement to enable international cruise to restart from August 2.

"While we aim to align with the UK Government approach where possible, this must be considered alongside the relaxation of other restrictions.

"Our next review point is not until August 3 and we will use the evidence from the UK restart to inform our decision making.”

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