From Shetland to the Clyde and Aberdeen to the Outer Isles, more and more cruise ships will arrive to boost Scotland's summer tourist season, reinforcing a growing reputation as a cruising hotspot.

This week Scotland’s ports have returned to the international cruise industry’s major annual claiming an even better sales pitch, thanks to increased membership of their marketing organisation and having already secured their busiest summer yet for this year.

In an eighth successive record-breaking season, almost 810 cruise ships and over 656,000 passengers are set to visit Scotland in 2017, following 676 vessels and around 484,000 visitors last year. The value to the Scottish economy is expected to top £72 million.

The ports' umbrella organisation Cruise Scotland has its biggest representation to date at Seatrade Cruise Global, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, billed as the cruise industry's premier global event, drumming up business for Scottish ports next year.

It is targeting industry operators as they plan itineraries several years ahead. Meanwhile funding has just been given to promote business and community engagement with the growing cruise industry around the Firth of Forth.

Cruise Scotland Chairman, Andrew Hemphill, said: “The additional membership and record activity demonstrate that the attractions and potential of Scotland are being recognised increasingly at home and abroad. The package on offer and the successes of the last decade are a great message.”

He added: “For many passengers, it will be their first visit to Scotland and, significantly, we know from experience they often return to enjoy again the stunning scenery, culture and heritage, and the hospitality. Participation at Seatrade Cruise Global will ensure we keep the momentum going.”

Since January, Cruise Scotland has added four full members – Fort William, Port Ellen, Northern Lighthouse Board in Oban, and Scalloway/Shetland Islands Council – bringing its ports around Scotland to 20.

Fort William is a fairly recent addition to cruise ship itineraries. It offers a unique location at the head of Loch Linnhe with Ben Nevis towering above. But to get there ships have to pass through the Corran Narrows, which has proved too great a challenge for some of the biggest ships carrying two or three thousand passengers. The first international cruise liner to arrive was Fred Olsen Line's Spirit of Adventure in 2010. But there will be six visits by the line's cruise ships this summer, each with a capacity of 800 or over.

On the other side of the country there is also a growing recognition of the hitherto untapped potential for the likes of Leith, arriving with the cruise liners going to Ocean Terminal, and other communities on the Firth of Forth.

This week promotion body CruiseForth landed £79,000 of Scottish Enterprise funding to continue its work making businesses more aware of the opportunities

Its new initiative, dubbed ‘Project Crystallise’, will be funded for two years and extend its reach to businesses across Tayside, Forth Valley and the Borders, reflecting the growth of ship visits to the Forth and to Dundee, where 14 cruise ships will visit in 2017 (up from 10 in 2016).

This year will see a 40 per cent increase in passenger numbers from ships visiting the River Forth (and Tay), with 122 vessels due to deliver over 145,000 passengers to Rosyth, Queensferry, Leith, Newhaven and Dundee.

Robert Mason, Head of Cruise at Forth Ports Ltd, said: “Forth Ports are committed to promoting Edinburgh and East Central Scotland as a destination for cruise itinerary planners. "