TRAVEL the 'Wight' way is the message from the boss of Visit Isle of Wight — and the council leader has asked people to only come if they need to visit relatives or have a second home on the Island.

Isle of Wight tourism boss, Will Myles, and Isle of Wight Council leader, Dave Stewart, spoke as MPs prepare to vote on the new tier system as the country emerges from lockdown.

Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly are the only three regions to have been placed in Tier One — which allows households to mix indoors up to a maximum of six people, and pubs can serve alcohol without the need for a 'substantial meal'.

This has led to concerns people may travel here to take advantage of looser coronavirus restrictions in Tier One.

Keith Greenfield, chief executive of Wightlink, said this year’s Christmas crossings would be quieter, but ferry bookings are rising post-lockdown.

He said: “It is by no means a huge rush, but lots of people will have been waiting to travel.

“There are lots of second home owners and people who come here regularly, I imagine, for Christmas who have been waiting to see if they are allowed to travel and they are now booking.

"There has been a small rise, but it’s not dramatic.”

He said it was not the job of the ferry companies to restrict movement — despite some complaints from locals that crossings be for essential travel only — but said the Island is reliant on visitors “respecting the rules”.

He said each ferry operates strict social distancing on board.

Cllr Stewart urged people not to visit the Island unless they have a “decent need” to do so. He said only those with family on the Island or second homes should consider travelling, with everyone else encouraged to wait.

“If you don’t need to come, don’t come,” Mr Stewart said, adding that the council is working up plans to station Covid support officers at the ferry terminals.

“They will be providing leaflets and information to people, encouraging them if they haven’t got a decent need to come over, not to come.”

Mr Stewart said, while he was supportive of local Island businesses who need the trade after a difficult year, people should try to remain local.

“We are very concerned that we don’t want to do anything that will increase the rate, because we all lose that way,” he said.

Chief executive of Visit Isle of Wight, Mr Myles, said: “We are not actively promoting saying that people from various different tiers should visit the Island, but travel the ‘Wight’ way and do the right thing.

“People from Tier Two, if they are coming should be adhering to Tier Two restrictions.”

The organisation said it is working with the local council to promote safe travel.

Mr Myles said: “We are not saying stop and don’t come, but we are not actively rushing out there and saying come and visit the Island.

“But our businesses are here and they need that support, so come and enjoy them, there’s no problem with that whatsoever.”

Anyone travelling from a Tier Two area has to follow the same rules as the area they came from, including a ban on household mixing indoors.

Those living under Tier Three restrictions have been asked not to travel to any Tier One region.