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Road to the Isles tourism marketing group urges tourists to stay at home amid Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak; Highland businesses and communities along the A830 between Fort William and Mallaig are struggling to cope

By Philip Murray

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Glenfinnan Viaduct
Glenfinnan Viaduct

A MAJOR tourism organisation which promotes travel and sightseeing opportunities around one of the Highlands' most famous routes, has urged tourists to stay at home amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Road to the Isles represents more than 100 accommodation and visitor-based businesses on the scenic A830 route covering Glenfinnan, Lochailort, Roshven, Arisaig, Morar, Mallaig and the Small Isles of Eigg, Muck, Rum, Canna and the Knoydart peninsula.

It is today urging tourists to stay home amid increasing reports that campervanners and second home owners are journeying to the north to self-isolate in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.

With a high ageing community, limited medical provisions, one doctor and ambulance to cover a vast area, and the nearest hospital a 100-mile trip; shops, restaurants, leisure facilities and visitor attractions have all closed. The Road to the Isles said that vital services that do still remain open are struggling to cope with demand.

They added that the community are following government guidance and preparing to self-isolate and are asking tourists and visitors to do the same - respect the guidelines in place and support them in protecting their vulnerable community.

Sine MacKellaig- Davis, chair of the Road to the Isles Marketing Group said: “Road to the Isles at this time would normally be marking the opening of the season, coming out of hibernation and preparing to welcome valued visitors from around the country. However, Covid-19 has changed all our lives as we know it.

"We now face a difficult road ahead and have a social responsibility to protect our communities.

“Our community value and very much depend on all our wonderful visitors who visit the Road to the Isles each year, and we want them to know we are not going anywhere.

"We will continue to share images and videos of our changing season via our social media platforms and stay connected with our wonderful visitors. We all need uplifting and inspiring content at this unprecedented time.

"As a rural highland community, we are resilient and will look after our vulnerable in the weeks and months ahead.

“For now, we ask you to stay home, care for loved ones and as soon as it’s safe to do so, the Road to the Isles and its communities and businesses will welcome you. Right now, we need to protect all the people that make the Road to the Isles such a unique and special place.”

The call echoes pleas from a number of Highland political figures, including the Scottish Government's rural economy and tourism secretary Fergus Ewing, who said he was "furious at the reckless and irresponsible behaviour of some people travelling to the Highland and Islands".

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