Opening up

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Serious challenges lie ahead for Arran. Of that there has never been any doubt.

But it is the stark reality of the situation which has really been brought home this week.

Arran, as we know and love it, simply cannot survive without the tourist trade. Of course there will be some who say it is too soon to open up the island to visitors, but a balance must be found.

Any recovery plan would strictly follow Scottish Government guidelines of the time. The worry is that the moment there is no plan for Arran, and the other Scottish islands, to come out of lockdown, which could leave us out in the cold.

The only way to get tourists back on the island is to get a regular service back on the boats. The Arran Recovery Group wants to see a return to 50 per cent capacity by the start of July. That seems a big ask, as CalMac suggests, but the ferry operator argues there should have been better planning for that to happen.

As a route map to bring tourists back, self-catering could be first and a ban on day trippers seems sensible, too, as, initially, there would be little for them to do, and it would free up ferry space for those who stay overnight or longer.

While some islands may be able to cope with a summer without tourists, Arran simply cannot and ways must be found for that to happen, and quickly, or the island faces a very bleak future indeed.