Cruise ships 'could bring 100,000 tourists a year to Stornoway'

New deep-water port could unlock huge economic potential in the Western Isles.

Deep-water port could let cruise ships bring 100,000 tourists a year to Stornoway STV News
Cruise ship passengers currently have to be ferried to the islands on smaller boats.

Cruise ships anchored off Stornoway are already a common sight in the summer.

At the moment, though, passengers have to be ferried ashore by smaller boats while the ships remain in deeper water.

It means that as Stornoway welcomes around 10,000 visitors a year on cruise ships, Orkney enjoys the fruits of more than ten times that.

But that could soon change with the creation of a deep-water port, designed not only to deliver a tourism and economic boost to the Western Isles, but to help grow Scotland’s renewables sector.

The larger harbour would allow cruise ships to dock – a move that would be welcomed by visitors and local businesses alike.

Alex Macleod, chief executive of the Stornoway Port Authority, believes that within five to six years, there could be 100,000 tourists arriving that way every year.

“There is enormous potential and opportunities for economic development,” he said.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney visited Lewis this week to mark the £49m project.

He said: “I’m very confident that what this proposition will do is give the Western Isles much closer access to the cruise and tourism market, but also open up more opportunities in the energy field.”

Scotland is determined to cement its place at the forefront of renewables and the new port will help. Allowing larger cargo, for example, means that parts for wind turbines could be unloaded.

It could also help boost the nearby Arnish fabrication yard, while Highlands and Islands Enterprise says there are big companies interested in coming to the area once the port is completed in 2024.