AN SNP MSP has called for the return of a direct passenger link between Scotland and Scandinavia, as he appealed to ferry companies to take advantage of the success of Scotland’s tourism industry.

Data from the Office of National Statistics showed the number of overseas tourists visiting Scotland rose by 16.9% to 3.2 million last year – driven by European visitors who accounted for 60% of visits spending £1.1 billion in the process.

While the number of European visitors to Scotland rose by 17% from 2016 figures, elsewhere in the UK the figure was only lifted by 1%.

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald said: “It’s clear that there is no better time for ferry operators to reinstate a direct passenger ferry link between Scotland and Scandinavia.

“Last year was a record year for overseas tourists – with visitors from Europe flocking to get their share of Scotland’s rich culture and heritage.

“I have no doubt that a ferry link between Aberdeen, Rosyth or elsewhere to Scandinavia would be fantastic for Scotland’s booming tourism industry. As the uncertainty of the Tories’ extreme Brexit offers the tourism sector with unnecessary challenges it is of the utmost importance that we develop and maintain strong links with our European neighbours.

“I will continue to work with ferry operators and the Scottish Government to make this route a reality,” he added.