A retired primary school head teacher has called on MSPs to do more to encourage tourists to get off the “beaten track” and visit a traditional boat festival in Aberdeenshire.
Lorna Summers, a director of the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, said she wanted them to promote the annual event in Portsoy because there were “things happening on the Moray Firth” that bypass some people visiting Aberdeen and Inverness.
She and her husband Derek have organised an exhibition at the Scottish Parliament this week to showcase the festival’s work.
It includes building a traditional 26-foot wooden salmon coble, plans for a community boat shed at Portsoy harbour and hiring a traditional boat builder to pass on traditional skills.
Mrs Summer, who worked at Portsoy Primary School for 10 years until 2007, said this type of vessel was once essential to Scotland’s commercial salmon fishing industry, which collapsed in the 1990s.
It is hoped the coble will be used to ferry visitors along the coast to former sites of the salmon fishing industry.
Mrs Summers said: “Once upon a time cobles were very common but there are few left and no records.
“So what we are doing is building and recording so we will have an archive that will be unique.
“There are things happening on the Moray Firth that are off the beaten track.
“Visitors to Scotland come to Edinburgh and go right up to Inverness or Aberdeen and miss off this part of the country.
“So we would like MSPs to promote the boat festival.”
Mrs Summer said politicians she had spoken to over the last three days had been “very enthusiastic and supportive” of the festival which has been running for 21 years and attracts around 16,000 visitors.
Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast who sponsored the exhibition which finishes today, said it “perfectly demonstrated” the labour and skill that has long been the foundation of the traditional salmon fishing industry.
“The work that the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival is doing in the construction of a traditional coble will be invaluable for generations to come as they are documenting a process previously passed on through word of mouth,” he added.
Lorna and Derek Summers live in Macduff.