Arran residents and businesses say they are ready to open the island to domestic visitors following the relaxation of the five mile travel restrictions next week, meaning more freedom for Scots hoping to holiday locally this summer.

With lockdown causing a huge financial blow to tourism on Arran, the island is now entering into its recovery phrase and says communities are ready to welcome visitors back safely in a bid to kick-start the island’s economy and get people moving again.

READ MORE: Islanders call for guaranteed ferry spaces for medical appointments

Arran businesses such as retail shops and visitor centres have reopened this week, but many say tourism is now crucial to alleviating the impact coronavirus has had on local businesses.

HeraldScotland:

Lorna Mansfield is managing director and owner of Old Byre Showroom and Café Thyme on the island and says businesses will not be able to recover fully without tourists.

She said: “We opened the retail side of the business and the play park on Monday and we’re doing takeaway from the café but it’s so quiet because there aren’t any tourists. I have a shop in Brodick which is quite small and it’s not done well at all this week with reopening.

READ MORE: Arran ferry cuts ‘potentially catastrophic for island economy’

“I would say if social distancing reduces and the ferry capacity increases, that will help, but at the moment we’re very limited with tourists not being able to get to Arran. Being open is better than being closed but it’s nothing like what it should be.

“We’ve all got to try and stay safe as much as we can but we can’t isolate ourselves anymore because the economy will collapse otherwise. People that know Arran will come back and hopefully people that haven’t been will think it’s a good alternative to travelling abroad.”

HeraldScotland:

Mansfield admits that businesses will have to weigh up economic recovery with health concerns as more people arrive on the island.

She said: “I feel safe but I have got concerns when tourists do come. We just have to take the precautionary measures and do we what we can. We’ve had to change our practices such as if people are trying on clothes then they can’t just put them back on the rack. We need to steam-clean them and provide hand sanitiser wherever possible.”

The local welcome comes as Ayrshire travel route The Coig, similar to the North Coast 500, launched a campaign this week actively encouraging people across Ayrshire and the Clyde Islands to invite people to travel locally and visit them as restrictions lift.

READ MORE: Islanders' anger as safety issue brings Scotland's busiest ferry to a halt 

Daniel Steele, chief executive, said: “The tricky thing is finding that balance between keeping people safe and inviting visitors to the islands as we want to avoid any spikes in regions and islands that are particularly fragile.

"Healthcare provision on islands is different so it needs to be gradual and only when communities feel ready to welcome people back.

HeraldScotland:

“The “You’re Invited” campaign isn’t to throw the doors open to everyone, quite the opposite. It’s about businesses and locals inviting friends and family to come and see them as well as loyal customers and those within a relatively short travel distance.

“We’re all guilty at times of not making much use of what’s around us so this is a real opportunity to explore some of these places and holiday and shop locally. The Coig provides a lot information for people to plan ahead as we certainly don’t want to be encouraging thousands of people to honeypot areas.

"Places like Culzean Castle, Dean Castle and Eglinton Country Park give people leisure time to enjoy themselves again in a safe way and I’m confident that people will be sensible as they have been throughout the crisis. Now is the time.”

Alastair Dobson, managing director of Taste of Arran, also invites Scots to staycation on Arran, describing it as “Scotland in miniature”.

Alastair said: “We’re ready to welcome tourists to Arran. We have worked positively with the Arran Economic Group to make sure the community is looked after as that’s hugely important – we want to be cautious and follow government guidelines but locals are very much behind it.

“We’ve also worked on the ferry capacity to allow a safe number of people to get across and with Arran Medical Group to ensure they have the capacity to do Test and Protect for an increased number of people on the island.

“Arran is a Scotland in miniature and we’re inviting people who already know how special the island is so I’m confident they’ll treat it well and respect the community.”