The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has said that the new pontoons in Fort William will provide a welcome boost for tourism to the area.
Cruise liners have already visited Fort William, demonstrating the benefits of the £170k initiative, which was officially opened today (Monday 5 September) by Fiona Hyslop, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Culture.
Earlier in the year First Minister Nicola Sturgeon heard about the plans during a visit to the Lochaber town, and Kate Forbes MSP believes the new pontoons will increase the number of visitors to the west Highlands.
The Lochaber MSP said: “Fort William and the wider Lochaber area had huge potential. It's the outdoor capital of Scotland, it's an historic attraction and there is plenty to do all year round from skiing in winter to walking in summer.
"With the spectacular views around Loch Linnhe including Ben Nevis, the Fort William area boasts some of the best scenery in Scotland and I think it’s a fabulous idea that we have cruise ships – with hundreds of people on board – coming to anchor at the new pontoons.
“Fort William is also strategically placed to serve some of the more hidden gems in the west Highlands, with the likes of Glenfinnan a short distance away, so this development will hopefully have a ripple affect along the west coast.
“Already we have had international visitors from UNESCO, who were visiting the Lochaber Geopark, take the boat to see sites of geological importance– that’s the beauty of having the pontoons there.”
Kate Forbes MSP added: “When the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was with me in Fort William earlier this year, she was delighted to see the plans developing and I know the First Minister is very impressed with the vision and initiative shown by the group.
“The Fort William Marina and Shoreline Company (FWMSC) are to be congratulated for their sterling work, and I for one hope that more cruise ships and other marine craft will be visiting Fort William in the coming months.”
It is understood that the next cruise liner to visit is the Fred Olsen Boudicca – a vessel that can carry up to 880 passengers – will be arriving at the end of the month.
More liners are scheduled to visit in 2017.