New ferry services will be introduced on key routes between Scotland’s islands, it has been announced.

CalMac is to operate an extra 153 sailings between the mainland port of Mallaig and Armadale on Skye, which will run between March 2 and March 26.

The enhanced service is being trialled for the next three three years as part of efforts to extend the tourist season on the island.

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And 43 extra services between the island of Berneray and the port of Leverburgh on Harris in the Outer Hebrides will set sail from June to August.

The new sailings, which will be a a permanent addition to the timetable, will start this summer.

Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse said he was pleased to announce the “additional services for two key routes on the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services network”.

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He added: “They will help support communities on Skye, Harris and North Uist by giving local people, visitors and businesses more options on when and how to use these ferry links.

“The extra sailings have been added following consultation with community councils and local elected representatives, including both communities’ constituency MSPs, the Sleat Transport Forum and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, so I hope they will be welcomed by all involved.

“This announcement underlines the Scottish Government’s commitment to ensuring our islands thrive and are supported by good transport links.”