RESTRICTIONS for cruise ships could be brought in on Orkney to deal with an onslaught of tourists that are causing problems for businesses and residents.

Residents on the islands are keen to see a limit placed on the number of ships that can dock because of a deluge of people visiting Neolithic attractions like Skara Brae.

The council is currently developing a “cruise liner booking policy” to present to councillors next week on August 22, which would restrict the number of ships on any day.

Orkney is the UK’s most popular destination for cruise ships and road closures have had to be brought in at times to ensure the safety of the public while thousands of passengers descend on the islands.

The council has said it is listening to concerns and would be talking to organisations to work out a solution.

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“We have a cruise liner booking policy under development that would serve to limit the number of large liners on any day,” it said.

According to Orkney Harbour Authority, 234 ships are booked to berth over the course of the year, with passengers set to boost the economy by about £15 million.

But businesses have been affected by the road closures that have had to be brought in, with many saying they are seeing no benefit from the level of tourism.

Julie Richards, who owns Straigona B&B in Tankerness, told The Times: “We have had over 7000 passengers from three ships on one day and some ships have over 4000 passengers.

“All this is on top of the normal tourism. It’s just too much.

“Nobody is saying ban the cruise business, but we see no benefit and we have a council tax rise of 10%. We just want the cruise ship impact better organised.”

“This is definitely the worst it has ever been.”

Paul Olvhoj, business development manager with marine services at the harbour authority, said that every port in the UK looks at Orkney as a “beacon of success”.

He added the authority is working to minimise days with larger numbers of passengers.

He said: “The larger liners calling into Orkney make up a very small percentage of the overall numbers and we work hard to minimise days with larger numbers of passengers. We do not want to stretch our infrastructure and we do not want anyone, cruise passengers or independent travellers, to have anything other than a first-class experience while here.

“There is no question that we must ensure that tourism for all visitors, which is central to the local economy in Orkney and a vital source of employment throughout the islands, is properly managed.”