Tourism chief urges ’Please don’t take the Road to the Isles’

The sun is shining, many local facilities are shut, and the opportunity of a scenic break to the West Highlands may seem too good to resist - but don’t do it.

By Roy Beers
Sunday, 22nd March 2020, 11:17 am
The view from Mallaig.
The view from Mallaig.

That’s the message to would-be visitors from the Road to the Isles marketing organisation, which represents more than 100 accommodation and visitor-based businesses on the A830 route.

They run facilities in some of Scotland’s most beautiful countryside - from Glenfinnan to Lochailort, Morar and Mallaig to the Small Isles and the Knoydart peninsula, and in normal times would be eagerly awaiting the start of the spring season.

But today they appealed for tourists to stay home.

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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 - the extra pressure of a deluge of visitors cannot be met.

Shops, restaurants, leisure facilities and visitor attractions have all closed and the vital services that remain open are struggling to cope with demand.

Sine MacKellaig- Davis, the group’s chairman, 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.”