Free ferry tickets to increase visitors to Scottish islands

Bosta beach on Lewis The free ticket initiative aims to encourage more visitors to enjoy the scenery on Scotland's award-winning islands such as Bosta beach on Lewis

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Thousands of free ferry tickets are being given away to encourage more people to visit Scotland's islands.

The Year of Homecoming will see 8,000 tickets given away and there will be free trips to places such as Orkney and Shetland.

Visitors will also be able to visit Lewis and Harris, which were named the top islands in Europe by travel website TripAdvisor.

The ferry tickets will be given away through online ballots during March.

Scottish islands secured six of the places in TripAdvisor's list of top 10 isles around Britain, with Lewis and Harris in first place and Orkney's mainland, Mull, Skye, Arran and Islay included in the selection.

The free ticket scheme is a partnership between VisitScotland, Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) and Serco NorthLink Ferries.

CalMac managing director Martin Dorchester said: "We received a lot of positive feedback from participants from last year's Big April Adventures and are delighted to team up with VisitScotland again for this initiative."

He added: "Scotland's islands offer something for everyone and we look forward to welcoming visitors on board for their trip to a brilliant island."

Entries to the ticket giveaway can be made through the VisitScotland website with weekly ballots being made over the next three weeks.

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