Council leader criticises NorthLink over group bookings

SIC leader Steven Coutts has criticised ferry operator NorthLink for cancelling all group bookings for 2o21.

Mr Coutts said he was “extremely disappointed” to find out through the media about the decision.

NorthLink’s decision would “significantly undermine” the recovery of the tourism sector, he said, an industry which had already “suffered more than most”.

“We clearly do not know where Shetland will be come 2021, but to see this decision made in this manner is really damaging to public confidence.”

No conversations had been held with the council, he added. This was “extremely regrettable”.

Jim Dow, Serco’s commercial director for NorthLink Ferries, said: “Due to the uncertainties surrounding Covid-19, we are not currently accepting group bookings for 2021, but are continuing to closely review the situation and we hope to be able to change this if circumstances allow.

“We are committed to supporting the tourism industry in Shetland and Orkney, and continue to welcome tourists on board our services on a regular basis. This provisional decision will help us support islanders and visitors with their forward bookings and avoid further cancellations.”

MSP Beatrice Wishart said on Wednesday she would seek urgent talks with government ministers over the decision.


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