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23rd April 2020
For immediate release

Scottish adventure and marine tourism operators welcome lifeline COVID-19 funding

Adventure and marine tourism operators across Scotland welcome Tuesday’s announcement by Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, that a £100 million fund is to be made available to support the self-employed, micro-operators and SMEs.

National bodies Wild Scotland and Sail Scotland have both been fielding calls over the past few weeks from concerned businesses, right across the sector. The organisations joined forces to tirelessly lobby the Scottish Government, not only on behalf of their members but the wider adventure and marine tourism sectors.

Scotland’s rich natural landscapes, breath-taking coastlines and world-class sailing grounds are recognised as a key motivator for visitors. The demand for meaningful outdoor experiences and challenges means that the adventure and marine tourism sector is now made up of over 600 operators across Scotland, encompassing a diverse range of micro and macro businesses. These deliver and facilitate outdoor activities including captivating wildlife tours, day cruises and adrenaline-pumping mountain biking and snow sports to multi-day walking holidays, spectacular sailing charters and cruising holidays.

Adventure and marine tourism businesses also play a key role in Scotland’s remote and fragile communities. Often, they are the main source of employment and the main revenue generator in interconnected rural economies. By attracting and generating visitor spend, the development of new businesses is supported; local accommodation providers enjoy high occupancy rates and a market is created for local products, including food and drink.

The delivery of sustainable adventure and marine tourism opportunities will be key to Scotland’s economic recovery. Scotland is already a top sailing and outdoor adventure destination, leading the way in best practice and sustainability. The two trade bodies are pressing the case for business survival at this time of crisis so the sector can play its part in revitalising and re-shaping Scottish tourism as visitors look to reconnect with the great outdoors.

Gavin McDonagh, Chair of Sail Scotland, said: “Marine and outdoor activities are key tourism drivers in Scotland. Many businesses are in desperate straits and need direct support or – to put it simply – they will not make it through the year.”

The Scottish Government announcement confirms funds will be allocated as follows:

  • £34 million Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund, managed by Local Authorities, to be allocated to the newly self-employed facing hardship through £2,000 grants.
  • £20 million Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund, managed by the Enterprise Agencies in partnership with Creative Scotland and VisitScotland for creative, tourism and hospitality companies not in receipt of business rates relief.
  • £45 million Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, managed by the Enterprise Agencies for vulnerable SME firms who are vital to the local or national economic foundations of Scotland

Doug McAdam, Chair of Wild Scotland, said: “The announcement of new support measures follows our sustained pressure and dialogue with government officials, ministers, and sector colleagues on behalf of our members’ businesses. We are pleased that this gap in support for adventure and marine tourism operators has been acknowledged, and that they are now included under these new funds. We will get full details out to our members as soon as they are available, and we will do everything we can to support member businesses and the wider industry with the application process.”

Marc Crothall, CEO of industry body the Scottish Tourism Alliance said: “All additional support is very welcomed by the industry and this recently announced £100M fund will provide some more relief for those businesses and organisations who have fallen through the gap.  We recognise the need for, and will continue to make a strong case for additional funding, not just for the short term but for the longer period for everyone operating within the sector as it is critical to Scotland’s tourism industry that it is able to bounce back in a strong, healthy position.”

Organisations such as Wild Scotland and Sail Scotland have played a critical role over the past few weeks. By working both one-to-one with members and with the wider adventure and marine tourism sector, along with their fierce lobbying, they are ensuring the sector gets the recognition and support that is deserved – and needed to survive.


For further information and comment please contact:

Alan Rankin, CEO, Sail Scotland – or 07704 010792

Victoria Brooks, Manager, Wild Scotland – or 01738 710332 / 07868 339404


Lucy MacLeod, We Do Fruition, on behalf of Sail Scotland and Wild Scotland, on 07843 277 174 or email



Notes to the editor

Wild Scotland


  • Wild Scotland is the national membership organisation representing wildlife, adventure & activity tourism operators. The current membership of 96 (January 2020) is rapidly increasing, driven by demand for an industry leadership to lobby for the sector and develop a sustainable approach to outdoor and nature-based tourism.


  • The sector has been one of Scotland’s fastest growing, with ‘activity and adventure’ tourism worth £759m to the Scottish economy (2015 Adventure Tourism report), accounting for nearly 40% of tourism spending in Scotland (SNH 2010).


  • Adventure tourism supports businesses and employment throughout Scotland, many located in rural and economically fragile areas. The sector also delivers tangible benefits to the people of Scotland, reconnecting people with nature, promoting responsible access, health and wellbeing, and sustainable economic growth.
  • Our members offer everything from wilderness walking holidays and mountain biking tours to whale-watching boat trips and bushcraft activities.They are committed to providing best practice and deliver some of the most inspiring experiences that Scotland has to offer.


  • The organisation was first established in 2003 and later in 2011 merged with Activity Scotland.



Sail Scotland


  • Sail Scotland Ltd is the Scottish marine industry’s tourism marketing organisation. It is a membership based organisation, with member businesses ranging from sailing charterers, sailing holidays, small local moorings and pontoon providers through to large multi-national marinas.


  • Sail Scotland works together with marine tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.


  • Awakening the Giant Marine Tourism Strategy 2015-2020 set out to drive “visitor expenditure for sailing from £101m to £145m and increase the overall economic value of the sector from £360m to over £450m by 2020”. By 2016 the visitor expenditure had reached £131m and the overall contribution of the sector – Gross Value Add (GVA) – in 2017/18 reached £411m.



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