The cruise industry is planning a phased return to sailings after being one of the sectors worst-hit by the coronavirus crisis.

The industry generates £10 billion for the UK economy every year, and supports more than 40,000 direct jobs and tens of thousands of others in the supply chain and around ports.

Cruises were halted around the world earlier this year, shattering the holiday plans of hundreds of thousands of people, and causing huge economic damage to ports, including dozens in the UK.

Andy Harmer, director of the Cruise Lines International Association, said the Highlands and Islands, where one in 10 Scottish cruises start, stand to lose more than £28 million alone.

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However, he said the industry has since been working to ensure a safe return to business, from the time passengers leave their homes, to when they are on board a vessel.

He said he hopes that cruises will re-start later in the year, possibly as early as September.

"A phased return is the right approach, and only when the time is right," he said. "There have been additional health and safety measures in place on cruises for a number of years, including sanitation, health facilities on board and health questionnaires."

New guidance is being published by European authorities which should mark another step forward for the resumption of cruises.

Mr Harmer said 50 ports around the UK which have facilities for cruise ships have suffered the economic impact of lockdown.

A business leader has called on the Scottish Government to "align with the UK" over quarantine.

Commenting on the UK Government’s plan for quarantine-free travel from "low-risk" countries, Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said: “The lack of a four-nations approach to the easing of quarantine restrictions is hugely disappointing and damaging."

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She continued: "At this time, this is sending a message that Scotland is not yet open for business and will leave us struggling to interpret what this means for tourism and international trade.

"Businesses will continue to struggle as long as the suggestion is out there that Scotland somehow may have separate quarantine restrictions and that the necessary balance between health and jobs is somehow seen differently north of the border.

“This could have a severe risk of further damaging the aviation sector in Scotland which has already been widely affected by this ongoing crisis in terms of job losses and impair on their ability to support the long term recovery of our economy if they cannot support the routes to investment and trade that businesses need.

“Complex policy variations and piecemeal measures simply confuse Scottish businesses, its global trading partners and the people of Scotland more widely. At a time when businesses hope to capture pent-up demand after months of devastating losses, there has never been a more important moment to show that we are ready and ‘open for business’ again."

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Ms Cameron added: "We urge the Scottish Government to commit to align with a UK-wide approach. In the light of current and expected job losses, we need the Scottish Government to make their decision as a matter of urgency hopefully not creating further divergence.

"Politics must be put to one side by all in order to give Scottish businesses the ability to drive up demand and do what they do best, making Scotland the best place to invest and do business.’’

Nicola Sturgeon criticised the UK Government's "shambolic" plans to develop air bridges, but said it is likely Scots will be allowed to travel to some low-risk countries without having to quarantine on their return.

The First Minister said she wants to "maximise alignment" with the rest of the UK so travellers do not have to quarantine, but added she needs time to study the British Government's proposals, saying they have regularly changed like "shifting sands".

Ms Sturgeon said: "It is likely - very likely - that we will be able to agree the list of countries that the UK has categorised as low risk, although we will need to do appropriate assessment of that.

"But we need to take some particular care in our assessment of the list of countries that are being categorised as medium risk, because that is where there may be some countries that have a higher prevalence of the virus than Scotland does right now."

Ms Sturgeon said the list of eligible countries suggested by the UK Government has repeatedly changed, including within the last 24 hours.

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She added: "When so much is at stake, as it is right now, we can't allow ourselves to be dragged along in the wake of another government's - to be quite frank about it - shambolic decision-making process.

So we will take time to properly and rationally consider this before, hopefully very soon, setting out our own decision."

High street retailer Shoe Zone has appointed Peter Foot as its new finance chief.

Shares in the company nudged higher after it announced that Mr Foot will take over as finance director from July 6, with current director Jonathan Fearn set to leave the business at the end of the month.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the company, hailed Mr Foot's 25 years in the footwear sector as said the new director is "well placed" to lead its finance team.

Last week, the retailer said it will permanently close 20 of its stores and cut jobs at its head office, as it warned the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic will last for years.

Shares were up 2.5% at 79.9p.