PRESSURE is mounting on the Scottish Government to do more to address the country’s ferries debacle, as CalMac’s depleted fleet stands out as the cause again of yet more backbreaking costs to Scotland’s islands communities and businesses.

The focus of a special Herald Business series this week, the failure of the ferry system is impacting on freight transportation and hampering the reopening of the islands where a few weeks of summer tourism revenue have been eagerly anticipated as some small consolation for the devastation caused by coronavirus.

For many, that window of operation will mean the difference between survival and going bust, and it will not be the pandemic but the ferries that will be blamed for this loss this time round, Scottish tourism leaders say.

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Scotland’s ferries are Holyrood-owned and taxpayer-funded and their operational record in described as the country’s shame, as we struggle to get new vessels on the water or plug gaping holes in the service caused by breakdown after breakdown, lengthy repair after lengthy repair.

One haulier likens the islands freight service to the M8 with an entire lane closed on any day or number of days a week.

One island hotel owner lost £80,000 worth of bookings in ten days because of ferry issues.

READ MORE: Tourism reopening hit by ‘collapse’ of ferries

Industry representatives said three of the four services to the Outer Hebrides are closed to bookings for the next 17 days and the remainder has availability on 10-20 per cent of services “which will disappear quickly”.

The islands communities and businesses are being failed.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “The islands have had some amazing film and documentary coverage and wonderful opportunities to promote themselves and great advocacy and marketing for Scotland and yet you can’t get there.”

HeraldScotland: Mar Crothall, pictured, said Scotland's ferries failure is 'just not an acceptable position' i an interview as part of a special series this week. Mar Crothall, pictured, said Scotland's ferries failure is 'just not an acceptable position' i an interview as part of a special series this week.

He said: "It is a Scottish Government issue here. It is damaging the islands’ tourism economy and the wider economy."

The message is clear to new Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands Mairi Gougeon and Minister for Transport Graeme Dey.

This is your first job.

A move to address the country’s housing shortage by one of Scotland’s leading entrepreneurs helps build hope for the future.

In a special report by Business Editor Ian McConnell this week, it is revealed Lord Willie Haughey, who went from selling firewood to a global empire, is to spend more than £1 billion on building 11,000 homes in Scotland over the next nine years, which will help tackle shortages and also transform the housing market.

The Glasgow-based businessman has developed a model which he believes will dramatically reduce rental costs for tenants, and aims to make this preferable to buying a house and taking out a mortgage for many people.

Hospitality continues to take much of the brunt and it is also emerging a lack of job security is driving chefs and other kitchen staff to leave the trade with experienced workers opting for roles elsewhere, creating skills shortages across the sector, Business Correspondent Kristy Dorsey reports.

However, on a more positive note, spirit is once more flowing at the “ghost” distillery of Brora in Sutherland following a three-year restoration project by owner Diageo, Deputy Business Editor Scott Wright says in his account of recent occurrences.

The reawakening comes 38 years after the distillery was closed during a period of excess capacity across the industry.

A glass is raised.