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Scottish island hopes tourists will still come after Brexit

Scottish island hopes tourists will still come after Brexit
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A short flight from Glasgow, lies the island of Islay off Scotland's west coast.

Tourists, many from Europe, fly in or come by ferry to enjoy its natural beauty, rich wildlife and a whisky industry that is known the world over.

Scotland wanted to stay in the EU. But the referendum result is said to have boosted tourism, with visitors taking advantage of a weaker pound.

Linda, her husband and son Peter hope it won’t be just short-term gain. They run the Bowmore Hotel at the heart of Islay, ploughing their life savings into renovations.

'Too much scaremongering'

“I think Islay will survive what the British government does," said Linda.

“There’s too much scaremongering. It’s not quite the way it’s being portrayed. We’ll still get up the next morning, there’ll still be a sunrise and the tide will come in and out and it will be fine.”

Down in the bar, son Peter is wowing customers with his whisky knowledge, with 600 varieties on offer.

Whisky brings guests from Europe, Japan, China and beyond. It also helps fuel Brexit bar chat.

'They’re trying to get rid of our nationality'

Speaking to James, Islay resident Glen Downing says: “When the common market started, I was all for it, you know what I mean. Oooh, the common market. And now, they’re trying to get rid of our nationality, our laws, our queen, our country.”

James asks: “But if we leave with no deal, what do you think of that?”

“It’s the best thing that could happen to us,” replies Glen.

'I don’t know who is going to blink first'

In the kitchen, Linda’s lending a hand. She voted to stay in the EU, but remains positive about her business.

“I think there’s enough interest in the island’s whiskies to counteract Brexit," said Linda. "And if Brexit happens without a deal, I think it won’t be too long before we get back to normal anyway."

She continued: “I don’t think Europe exactly want us to go and it’s becoming very obvious. So, I don’t know who is going to blink first, but somebody will.”

The Brexit political ripples may lap at Islay, but investment continues. A destination that is sure of its place on Scotland’s tourism trail.