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'Inevitable' that coronavirus will hit Highland cruise trade

By Hector MacKenzie

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Coronavirus could impact cruise ship numbers in the north.
Coronavirus could impact cruise ship numbers in the north.

VISITOR numbers to Inverness could be down this summer if coronavirus hits the cruise ship trade.

City-based economist Tony Mackay believes it is “inevitable” some liner visits to Invergordon will be cancelled, with a knock-on effect in terms of passengers who take day trips to the city and attractions such as the Culloden Battlefield and Urquhart Castle.

“The experience with the cruise liner in Japan is a clear indication of the likely problems,” he said. “It will have a serious impact on the local economy, not just in Invergordon but also elsewhere where the visitors go.”

He added: “The cruise liner business has been a great success for the port of Invergordon. However, other local industries such as oil and gas have struggled recently and the short-term prospects for the local economy are poor.”

The first planned cruise ship arrival this year is on April 3, beginning a season running into October that is set to see 103 ships docking in Invergordon.

Port of Cromarty Firth chief executive Bob Buskie said it was working closely with other bodies to ensure “appropriate measures” were in place to manage the situation.

All ships coming into the Cromarty Firth must complete a declaration form in advance of their arrival, stating if any passenger or crew member is suffering symptoms of the illness or has travelled from or visited areas infected by coronavirus.

Highland Council Port Health Authority will rule on which ships can enter the port on that basis.

* Click here for more coronavirus news.

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