Survey finds Arran just about ready to open for visitors

Hopefully this deserted view of Brodick in June won't be the scene for much longer.

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Survey finds mood of the island kinder

More than half of Arran residents believe the island should open for visitors in the next two months.

That is one of the main findings of The Arran Recovery Group’s community survey, conducted at the end of May, which returned almost 900 responses.

Fifty two per cent of those surveyed agreed with the re-opening of the island by the end of the July with evidence respondents were comfortable with self catering and outdoor activities opening sooner.

With the Scottish government announcing the re-start of tourism from July 15, that would seem to be largely in step with the mood on the island.

However, 15 per cent of those surveyed did not want Arran open to visitors until next year.

There has also been a dramatic decline in optimism around the Arran economy from 89 per cent to 11 per cent with 63 per cent of tourist businesses at risk, based on their required tourist volumes.

As the introduction to the We Are Arran survey stated: ‘COVID-19 has changed many aspects of life on Arran. As an island, our recovery will be different from the mainland.’

There are many positive aspects to take away from the survey, with many people satisfied with the information and help they have received. They have spent more time focusing on environmental concerns and have used the lockdown to be kinder to themselves.

Among other survey results, people recognise the economy is essential for Arran but need assurance health will remain a priority. There’s an agreement people want to feel more positive about tourism. People are missing their loved ones and lockdown is affecting their mental health. People who are self employed are more likely to have little or no help from government funds, or know what help is available.

There is a perception lockdown has reversed environmental damage to Arran. People want to feel safe, whether that’s economically or physically. The fear of uncertainty was felt in equal measures by residents who were suffering financially and those suffering physically.

Arran Recovery Group is led by representatives of island organisations including the Health and Social Care partnership, Arran Community Council, VisitArran, Auchrannie, Taste of Arran, Arran Eco Savvy, Arran Development Trust, NAC Support, councillors, Arran High School, Arran Community Voluntary Service, Arran Ferry Committee, Highlands and Island Enterprise and Arran Economic Group whohave been working with community stakeholders to develop a recovery plan.

The recovery plan will be informed by extensive consultation with the Arran community, the objective being to achieve the widest possible consensus.

Results of this survey, the most comprehensive ever carried on Arran with the island community, was the start of the process and will inform the recovery plan.

In turn, the recovery plan will aim to balance the three strands of island life, community, environment and economy through each stage of recovery, underpinned by the Scottish government route map and  health and social care partnership guidance.

Hopefully this deserted view of Brodick in June won’t be the scene for much longer. 01_B25brodick02