VisitScotland in partnership with Caledonian MacBrayne and Serco NorthLink Ferries have launched a huge free ferry tickets give away.
The competition will see more than 8,000 foot passenger tickets for a return trip to one of 23 Scottish islands up for grabs.
The tourism campaign aims to encourage people to discover for the first time or reacquaint with Scotland’s island and enjoy brilliant moments. From the idyllic beaches and ancient castles, succulent seafood and colourful gardens; be it on Arran or Orkney, Barra or Colonsay, the campaign promises that a trip to Scotland's islands will provide incredible sights and unforgettable adventures.
Each week, winners will be drawn at random through a ballot on 16th, 23rd and 30th March 2015 and those who do not win have the opportunity to enter again the following week.
The tourism campaign is being run again this year, following its hugely successful competition last year when more than 63,000 from the UK entered the draw, nearly double the amount of entrants for 2013’s campaign (35,000).
Last year, Arran was the most popular location with more than 9,470 requests for tickets to the island. The second most requested location was Shetland with 8,989, followed by the Isle of Lewis with 7,048 requests, then Mull with 6,710 and Orkney 6,204.
Scotland boasted six winning beaches in the recent TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice awards for Beaches. Isle of Harris’ Luskentyre was named eighth best rated in the UK while Calgary Bay on the Isle of Mull came 20th and Kiloran Beach on the Isle of Colonsay came 25th.
In 2014, Lewis and Harris were named among the world winners of TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Islands awards. Lewis and Harris beat tropical rivals in Thailand, Chile and Madagascar to be included in the top five islands in the world, also making it the number one island in Europe, based on the reviews and opinions of millions of travellers on TripAdvisor.
The Islands Survey revealed that the 425,000 visitors who went to the Outer Hebrides, Shetland and Orkney between 2012 and 2013 contributed over £100m to the local economies.
Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said 2014's competition had been a "huge success". He added: "In Scotland we are very lucky to boast hundreds of islands, each with their own diverse landscape, rich wildlife, unique character and delicious food and drink.”
CalMac is the operator of the UK's largest ferry company, carrying 4.65 million people in 2014 alone along the length and breadth of their 200-mile long network. Martin Dorchester, Managing Director of Caledonian MacBrayne, said: " CalMac is very much part of the island tapestry and we are proud of our place at the heart of these unique communities. We are delighted to play a part in sharing our heritage and experience with visitors - whether they be returning travellers or newcomers."
Stuart Garrett, managing director of Serco NorthLink Ferries, added:
“At NorthLink Ferries, we are committed to showcasing what the Northern Isles have to offer, from the fascinating history to the stunning scenery and like to think the tourist experience of Island hospitality starts as soon as they start their journey with us.”
This month is also the launch of the Cold Water Island Tourism Initiative - find out if your business could benefit.