Highlands & Islands

Highland Council leader suggests free island visits

A beach on Harris. Pic: Iain Maclean
Image caption Mr Foxley said free island visits could be offered to school pupils initially

The leader of Highland Council has said everyone living in Scotland should get a voucher providing free travel to a Scottish island.

Michael Foxley has made the suggestion to VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay and Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing.

He said the scheme would help mark Scotland's Islands, a celebration of island culture that ends in April.

He added that although ferry firms would lose out on fees, passengers would spend money during the trips.

Mr Foxley said the vouchers scheme could start with secondary school pupils.

He said: "Although there is a theoretical loss of income to the ferry companies neither Calmac nor NorthLink Ferries should actually lose out as people would still buy food and drink on board and the potential for repeat trips would be encouraged.

"There would also be benefits to mainland ports as people will require food, drink and accommodation."

The council leader said he was still waiting for feedback from the Scottish government on the idea.

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