Outer Hebrides Tourism (OHT) has written to Scottish Government Minister for Transport and the Islands Humza Yousaf to urge his urgent intervention on what they feel is a ferry crisis in the Western Isles.
They state that easy access for tourists to the Outer Hebrides is critical to the island economy.
But they claim that those travelling to and from the Outer Hebrides are suffering as CalMac juggle ferries services due to ‘operational reasons’.
In a statement issued to the Gazette the OHT state capacity has been sacrificed at short notice from the ‘Uig Triangle’ ferry route with a vessel too small to deliver an effective service for passengers and the ‘Lord of the Isles’ has been removed from the Mallaig – Lochboisdale route, until further notice.
Now they have confirmed they have written directly to Mr Yousaf to engage with him on some key issues.
Firstly to seek his personal intervention for the urgent reinstatement of the ‘Lord of the Isles’ to its normal schedule on the Mallaig – Lochboisdale route.
And additonally to invite him as a matter of priority to a meeting in the Outer Hebrides to respond to questions and address growing concerns around Calmac’s ageing fleet and its inability to commit publicly to ongoing service reliability; General pressure on most Outer Hebrides ferry routes and Construction delays to the two new ferries.
Ian Fordham, Chairman of Outer Hebrides Tourism commented: “Negative tourism impacts have followed the ferry capacity issues.
“The removal of ‘Lord of the Isles’ from the Mallaig – Lochboisdale route, so early in the season, has highlighted severe problems in the fleet and its capacity. We await the Minister’s response.”
OHT also say they are extremely concerned over the recent recurrent warnings from Calmac that their vessels are too old to guarantee service reliability, so they ask what steps are being taken to provide, at an absolute minimum, to provide a fit-for-purpose ferry service for the future in the Outer Hebrides.