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February 2020

Sail Scotland

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Virtual reality ‘bucket list’ videos get international launch, inspiring boating visits to Scotland

Sail Scotland has unveiled a series of 360 degree virtual reality videos to encourage visitors to discover Scotland by boat.

The marketing body for Scottish marine tourism launched the videos on Saturday 18th January, giving the 250,000 visitors to the Dusseldorf Boat Show the opportunity for an immersive, on the water experience of some of Scotland’s extraordinary islands, coastal destinations and canals. The boat show is an international industry highlight, providing a high-profile platform for the launch of the innovative videos.

Visitors are invited to explore eight inspiring must-visit locations through the 360 degree videos. These each give a taste of Scotland’s unique coastlines and islands, culture, heritage and wildlife. The virtual reality (VR) series spearheads Sail Scotland’s #MustSeaScotland campaign, created in partnership with the National Trust for Scotland, Diageo and CalMac, and supported by VisitScotland.

A virtual visitor might find themselves on approach to St Kilda, as the islands tower out of the storm-tossed waters of the Atlantic Ocean. They will discover the stories of the ancient landscape and the resilient people who made a home here, and marvel at the hundreds of thousands of seabirds clamouring high above on sea stacks and cliffs.

Another virtual journey reveals the Isle of Islay, a gateway to the Western Isles cruising grounds. Visitors can take in the sweeping bays and spectacular views, before glimpsing behind the scenes at one of Islay’s renowned whisky distilleries and joining sea kayakers to explore the dramatic coastline.

Mingulay, Canna, Oban, Skye and Inverness, the Moray Firth and Highland canals also all feature in the series of high tech videos. In addition to inspiring sailors to Scotland’s waters, the videos are designed to encourage other visitors to explore by boat, as well as to discover Scotland’s coastal towns and attractions. In the virtual visit to Staffa, holidaymakers step aboard a trip boat to explore the island’s surreal volcanic rock columns and the magic of Fingal’s Cave, while the virtual voyage to Islay is aboard a CalMac ferry. Video visitors to the picturesque seaside town of Oban discover highlights including Oban Distillery, McCaig’s Tower and Dunstaffnage Castle.

Each 360 degree video also has an accompanying ‘behind the scenes’ video. These reveal a fascinating glimpse into the making of the virtual reality videos, which were created for Sail Scotland by Airborne Lens using the latest film techniques and state-of-the-art camera technologies.

Sail Scotland works year-round to encourage visitors to the unique destinations and experiences Scotland offers. The #MustSeaScotland digital campaign aims to generate £1m for Scotland’s economy through visits by boat. The videos can be viewed on mobile phones and on computers, as well as through VR headsets, making them easily accessible. Once video users’ attention is caught by their virtual reality experience, they can link to opportunities to find out more, plan their visit and make bookings.

The #MustSeaScotland campaign supports the National Marine Tourism Strategy and Tourism Scotland 2020 and offers a fitting introduction to Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020. This themed year is designed to inspire visitors and locals to explore and experience our unique shores.

Alan Rankin, Chief Executive of Sail Scotland, said: “Having visited many of the stunning locations featured in the videos, I believe the 360 VR format is the next best thing to getting out there. The videos have a true ‘wow’ factor and I would encourage everyone to experience them for themselves.

 “Sail Scotland works hard with our members and partners to promote our wonderful sailing and boating waters, and to encourage visitors to our extraordinary coastal landscapes. Being at the largest consumer show of its kind in Europe with such innovative material is a great start to the year.”

Gavin McDonagh, Chair of Sail Scotland, added: “We’re delighted to showcase our multi-media #MustSeaScotland campaign and state-of-the-art virtual reality videos at Europe’s biggest customer-facing boat show. This is also a great example of how Sail Scotland promotes Scotland and the marine tourism industry.”

David Adams McGilp, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director, said: “The VisitScotland Growth Fund award is about encouraging collaboration within Scotland’s tourism industry to develop innovative marketing campaigns which will grow the visitor economy. It’s therefore great to see this campaign, which is led by Sail Scotland, partnered with National Trust for Scotland, Diageo and CalMac, launch these immersive films. They give a superb virtual taste of some of the country’s best coastal locations and will hopefully encourage visitors to come to Scotland to experience our coasts and waters for real.”

The #MustSeaScotland virtual reality video series, including behind the scenes videos, can be viewed online on Sail Scotland’s YouTube channel, at

Sail Scotland

  • Follow us on twitter: @sailscotland
  • Sail Scotland Ltd is the Scottish marine industry’s tourism marketing organisation. It is a membership based organisation, with members ranging from small holiday companies to large multi-national marinas.
  • Sail Scotland works together with marine tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • For information on sailing and boating holidays in Scotland go to
  • For information on other leisure and business trips to Scotland go to

Year of Coasts and Waters 2020

  • Scotland’s Coasts and Waters will be showcased throughout 2020 and celebrated with a programme of activity designed to support the nation’s tourism and events sectors. 
  • The year, led by VisitScotland, will sustain and build upon the momentum of Scotland’s preceding Themed Years to spotlight, celebrate and promote opportunities to experience and enjoy Scotland’s unrivalled Coasts and Waters, encouraging responsible engagement and participation from the people of Scotland and our visitors. 
  • A year-long programme of events, activities and ideas will shine a spotlight on the impact our waters have had on Scotland, from the formation of beautiful natural features to the creation of our national drink – whisky. 
  • Join the conversation using #YCW2020
  • See for further information.

News from Mallaig Harbour: February 2020

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The weather hasn’t improved any since my last news, which meant that the sprat pump didn’t get any further use, and was finally removed on 24th January. On the 13th and 14th January there were big tides, which, along with the storm surge, led to both the lifeboat and the passenger access pontoon being above the height of the pier. Thankfully there was no damage done, but it made for some pretty impressive photos. Unfortunately, because they were taken in the dark, they won’t reproduce well in Westword, but you can see some of them on our Facebook page.

We’ve been using this quieter period to catch up on some maintenance, especially around the Marina, but we are also hoping to do some work, including replacing ladders, in the Outer Breakwater – if the weather calms down enough! We have also received the report from Resource Efficient Scotland with recommendations for how we can reduce our energy consumption. As I indicated before, the most visible aspect of this will be changing the lights around the Harbour to LEDs, which has been calculated to save 35,000kWh of energy and 9 tonnes of CO2 annually.

I’ve been mentioning that this is the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, and there are various events going on throughout Scotland throughout the year. We are hoping to host an event on the 27th June, in partnership with the Road to the Isles Marketing Group; RNMDSF and the RNLI. This will be a great community gala day, with various additional elements to really celebrate our Coasts and Waters. More details will be available in the run up to the day, but in the meantime, please mark the date in your diaries, and if anyone has any suggestions of what they would like to see incorporated, or would be willing to help with anything either in the run-up or on the day, then please get in touch.

We have also received information from the Highland and Moray FLAG (fisheries local action group) who are looking for participants who are involved in the fishing industry in the Highlands and Moray, and who would be interested in visiting the Jammerbugt FLAG and the Guild of Thorupstrand Coastal Fishermen in Northern Denmark. The fishing community in Thorupstrand, in northern Jutland, is one of the few examples of small-scale fishing still surviving in Denmark. The area has faced similar industry challenges to Highland and Moray in terms of lack of young fishermen coming into the industry, decommissioning impact, difficulties accessing quota, and changing markets. Through an innovative project and co-operative working, the Fishermen’s Guild and the Jammerbugt FLAG have taken steps to protect the industry, including attracting young people into the industry, community owned quota, sustainable gear adaptations, boat building, and their own seafood branding initiatives. The visit would be fully funded for successful applicants, and you can find more information, and a short questionnaire to complete if you are interested at

We had our first Board Meeting of the year in mid-January, and the next one is scheduled for mid-March. As with every year, there will be Board vacancies, which will be advertised immediately after the March Board meeting. We know that it is quite a tight turnaround for applications each year, so I’m happy to have an informal discussion with anyone who thinks that they might be interested in applying even before the positions are advertised.  

Finally, most of you will know that our Harbour Master had a big birthday on Wednesday 29th January. We celebrated with home-made Prosecco and Strawberry cheesecake kindly made by Grace. Happy Birthday Pimmy!

Jacqueline McDonell

News from Mallaig Harbour: January 2020

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Happy New Year to everyone! It’s not a great start to the year weather-wise, with high winds forecast for most of the week, and not much movement in the harbour as I am writing this on Monday 6th. We were due to host the Screen Machine on Sunday 5th and Monday 6th January but unfortunately the stormy weather meant that this visit had to be cancelled.

On a more positive note, the Sprat landings continued through December, right up until Wednesday 18th as the weather continued to be kind. A total of 1,210 tonnes was landed pre-Christmas, and the boats requested the pump be left for the start of January, in the hope that there would be more landings of sprats. This was also a boost for our ice plant, as there was almost daily ice required!

The Marina is closed for the Winter season, so we have been reviewing the occupancy figures. Although there were very slightly more vessels in total this season, there were actually less nights occupied at the Marina, with 1,401 in 2019/20 as opposed to 1,602 in 2018/19. June and July were on a par with the previous year, but August was quieter. This year is the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 so it will be interesting to see what impact this has on marine tourism locally. There are some great opportunities to promote the area on social media throughout the year, not least the Sunset competition running all year as West Coast Waters try and create a breathtaking West Coast Waters Sunset Trail for the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020. There’s a different prize to be won each fortnight throughout the year, and your photograph doesn’t even have to be new – it just has to be shared to @WCWScotland and tagged #WCWSunsets and the location of the picture.

Mallaig Harbour Authority is a member of The British Ports Authority, who put together a range of information in the run-up to the General Election in December. This included their proposals for ‘A New Deal for UK Fishing Ports’, which you can read at This document recommends three different strands:

Building Economic Resilience – by creating a domestic fisheries fund to replace EU funding which has clear, strategic aims that tie into wider policy to revive UK fishing

Restoring the Economic Link – which suggests increasing landings into UK ports is the best way to ensure that UK coastal communities benefit from UK fisheries. Increasing landings would also put UK fishing ports on a more sustainable economic footing, boosting the wider marine economy.

Maintaining Market Access – which supports Government policy to negotiate a deal on fisheries that preserves frictionless and tariff-free trade for seafood. 

Each of these strands could have significant implications for Mallaig Harbour, and the delivery of our new Masterplan, so we will be watching with interest how policy develops.

As many of you will know, the ‘upstairs’ Denholms office in the Harbour Buildings has been empty for a period. As Mallaig Harbour Authority has overall responsibility for the building, we decided as a Board that we should approach Denholms to take back the lease on the space, with the intention of sub-dividing it so that it could be used again. This will allow us to update the whole upstairs of the building, putting in more modern facilities. Denholms renounced the lease at the end of December, so we are currently working with an architect to draw up some plans, with the intention of sub-dividing the existing space into three offices, some storage and a communal kitchen for all the upstairs users. 

 Jacqueline McDonell