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NorthLink forced to cancel tour bookings

NorthLink Ferries have cancelled taking bookings from tour groups hoping to visit Orkney and Shetland in 2013 in a decision described as “a real blow to many tourism businesses in Orkney and Shetland”, by Orkney MSP Liam McArthur.

The decision by the Scottish Government to offer the next contract for lifeline ferry services to the Northern Isles in two lots has led to NorthLink having to review its current tour group offering to coach operators.

The company has already declared that, subject to the detailed provisions of the contracts which have yet to be published, it intends to bid for both the Pentland Firth and Aberdeen routes.

However, due to the uncertainty which results from the decision to tender the Pentland Firth route separately, the company has decided that it would be commercially difficult for it to continue to offer, and to take, advance group tour bookings on the current basis for the Scrabster – Stromness service and for those to Shetland via the Pentland Firth crossing.