The Outer Hebrides Tourism Board has launched a survey targeting business owners in the Western Isles in order to "capture the impact on Outer Hebrides tourism businesses following the ferry disruptions this year."
Participating businesses are being asked to report financial-losses and challenges experienced as a result of cancelled and delayed sailings occurring this tourist-season.
Outer Hebrides Tourism is asking that the survey be completed before August 15: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/Ferries2022/
The survey is part of a wider inquiry into the economic impact of the current, ongoing ferry crisis.
Last year a Uist resident published a petition lobbying the Scottish Government to "improve the reliability of island ferry services" after service issues throughout summer 2021 resulted in considerable economic damage to the largely tourist-reliant economy. The petition read:
"Unreliable ferry services are causing huge losses to island economies. After a very difficult 18 months with no tourists, holidaymakers who had booked for this year are now cancelling as Calmac regularly cancel their ferry bookings.
"In Uist, we are suffering tremendously and constantly refunding people's bookings. As a very small island we do not have a choice of employment and we need the tourists back."
In September 2021, after amassing nearly 700 signatures, the petition was considered by the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee in Parliament. It was agreed that the petition should sit with the cross-party Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee as part of its on-going review of Scottish-Government supported ferry services.
On March 15 2022 the Committee agreed to undertake an official inquiry, which was opened at its next meeting on June 28. An evidence session was conducted, and representatives from Arran Ferry Action Group, Islay Community Council, Harris Transport Forum, Mull & Iona Ferry Committee, Yell Community Council, and Stronsay Community Council joined the meeting remotely in order to relay feedback to Parliamentarians.
Subsequently, on July 1, the "Modern and Sustainable Ferry Service for Scotland” consultation was opened to collect public feedback.
The remit states that "The inquiry aims to seek out how best to secure a ferry service that is future-proofed, compatible with Scotland’s net zero goals and will meet the needs of all service users, having regard in particular to the long-term sustainability of island communities."
The consultation closes August 26 at midnight, and can be completed here: https://yourviews.parliament.scot/nzet/modern-sustainable-ferry-services/consultation/intro/
Feedback received will eventually be shared with the Scottish Government.