Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, people on Arran are taking solace in the island’s strong sense of community and resilience.

With businesses closed due to lockdown, the local economy is likely to take a huge hit, particularly come the summer months.

Sheila Gilmour, Executive Director at VisitArran, said: “The crisis has had a massive impact on Arran’s tourism. Tourism generates £67 million for the island’s economy so it’s been particularly hard to lose custom considering the fabulous weather.

“I think our businesses will be pleased when lockdown lifts as more people will want to holiday locally. We are ideally positioned because our island has wide open spaces.

“We are good on the island at supporting each other. I’m a native islander myself and I think we have an inbuilt coping mechanism plus we’re very aware of the risk we would be putting other people under if we don’t stick to social distancing rules. People are being really responsible.”

Alastair Dobson is the managing director of Taste of Arran, which brings together many producers across the island.

Alastair said: “The main thing for me as soon as this kicked off was to make sure that our community was safe and that we as a business could support any other organisations needing it.

“We have a wonderful voluntary sector here with people donating food and hygiene products. Arran’s a special place especially for tourism but we’re saying please don’t come – give us time to recover and we will be there for you once this is all over.”

Emma and Tom Jessop – the owners of Arran Alpacas and Balmichael Glamping – hope to see an exit strategy over the coming months. The couple moved from the mainland in autumn to start their business. COVID-19 has put a halt to that but they remain optimistic.

Tom said: “We’ve been really pleased with how close the community is and how supportive everyone has been.

“There is a glimmer of hope that people will be holidaying on Arran when restrictions are lifted. The difficulty at the moment is that we don’t know what the timeline is. We are here ready and waiting when all this is past.”


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