A NEW ferry route between Scotland and Scandinavia would boost tourism and exports in the face of Brexit, it has been claimed.

Campaigners want to create a new link across the North Sea in a bid to help stimulate the economy and tap into a lucrative holiday market.

It comes after the UK’s only remaining ferry service to Scandinavia – travelling between Essex and Esbjerg in Denmark – closed in 2014 after nearly 140 years in operation.

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SNP MSP Angus MacDonald is now calling on ferry operators to get round the table with the Scottish Government to help make a new route happen.

He wants to reintroduce the potentially lucrative service from a Scottish port – with the potential for growing exports to Scandinavia as well as supporting tourism.

He said: “There is great demand on both sides of the North Sea for a direct passenger ferry link between the UK and Scandinavia – and this represents a great opportunity for Scotland.

“Whether we can secure a route between Aberdeen, Rosyth or elsewhere and one of the fantastic Scandinavian destinations is of course up to the ferry operators – but it would be a significant boon for our economy if we can bring the service back.

“The full implications of the Tories’ extreme Brexit are yet to be known – but given how they have handled the process so far, we can only guess that they will provide our tourism sector with unnecessary challenges.

“In this context, it is vital that we develop and maintain strong connections with the rest of Europe in order to keep enticing tourists to Scotland – and the economic benefit of increasing visitor numbers from some of the world’s wealthiest nations is clear, with Scandinavian tourists spending nearly £8.5 billion in the UK between 2011 and 2016.

“And it is not only tourism that could benefit, but our whole economy – a potential passenger/cargo ferry could have the twin effect of increasing tourist numbers as well as growing our exports across the North Sea.

“I look forward to getting round the table with the Scottish Government and ferry operators – and working together to introduce a new Scotland to Scandinavia ferry service.”

Mr MacDonald has now written to transport minister Humza Yousaf seeking to “get the ball rolling” ahead of the “potential damage to our tourism sector from the impact of Brexit”.

In the letter, he added: “The benefits of a Scotland to Scandinavia ferry service are undeniable – from increased tourism in both directions across the North Sea, to stronger connections with our Scandinavian neighbours, often ranked the happiest and healthiest in the world.”

Figures show there were more than 15 million visits to the UK from Scandinavia between 2011 and 2016 – contributing nearly £8.5 billion to the UK economy.

Meanwhile, spending by Danish visitors in the UK rose by 30 per cent over the five years.

A spokesman for Transport Scotland said the Scottish Government was “supportive of plans that improve Scotland’s connectivity with mainland Europe”.

He added: “Whilst a new ferry link between Scotland and Scandinavia would have to be established on a commercial basis, we’d welcome discussions with interested operators about the opportunity and the benefits it could bring to businesses, tourism and the economy.”