Covid-19: Skye boat trip operators hopeful of government support

Kenny MacKinnon of

Skye’s marine tour operators say they are “cautiously optimistic” of receiving government support in the coming weeks.

The sector was excluded from support schemes announced by the UK and Scottish Governments before Cabinet Secretary for Finance (and local MSP), Kate Forbes, announced a new £100 million fund last week.

The new fund is specifically designed to assist small and micro businesses that were ineligible for other forms of support.

Vicki Dunkel, from SkyeXplorer Boat trips in Uig, said: “That is our one glimmer of hope.

“I am not getting my hopes up too high because we have been disappointed with every one (of the schemes) so far. But it does sound as if there is going to be help but obviously there is no detail there yet, which I understand, as it is a massive job trying to plug all these gaps.”

Kenny MacKinnon, who runs out of Stein in Waternish, had been expecting 2020 – the Year of Coasts and Waters – to be a bumper season.

He said: “Hopefully, having spoken to HIE we think we are going to qualify for some help here. We don’t want to see the boats doing nothing, obviously, but if we don’t have any choice it’s just good to keep everyone in some form of employment. We should know by the end of the month the full expected outcome from this funding……so we wait!”

SkyeConnect surveyed the marine tourism sector this week as part of an on-going data collection campaign to help inform politicians and key decision-makers.

To hear more about the marine tourism sector on Skye download “The Skyetime Podcast” for the 17th of April.

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