The National:

INTERNATIONAL travel has hit the headlines once again following the decision by governments in Edinburgh and London to remove Portugal from the green list.

While I understand this will come as a disappointment to those who were hoping to get away for a break, and could cause headaches for those already out there, the truth is that lifting restrictions on international travel was always going to present problems.

While the vaccine programme is progressing well here, the varied speed of the rollout throughout the world, along with the emergence of new variants of concern means that allowing quarantine-free international travel presents huge risks.

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That’s why I’d encourage anyone considering a holiday this year to do so at home.

Scotland is a beautiful country with a huge amount to offer from the islands to the coastal communities and everywhere in between. Yet many of us, particularly those of us based in the central belt, don’t often get around the country as much as we would like.

Well, I’d say it’s time for us to do something about that.

Our domestic tourism sector has taken a huge hit over the past year and could really do with your business if you are planning to go away for a few days.

Hospitality businesses will go out of their way to show you a good time wherever in Scotland you choose to visit and who knows you may even decide that holidaying at home is a habit you want to continue.

For those who maybe can’t get away for a long break, even just getting away from home for the day can help ease the stress that everyone has been feeling throughout lockdown. In my part of the world the Kelpies (below), the Antonine Wall and the Falkirk Wheel are just some of the great days out on offer.

The National:

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If you do have the chance to get away for a few days, it is important to remember that the place you’re visiting is someone else’s community. So please have fun, explore our wonderful country, but be respectful and remember to take your rubbish with you.

Gillian Mackay is the Scottish Greens MSP for Central Scotland and the party’s health and social care spokesperson