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Press statement: STA responds to First Minister’s announcement on phased re-opening of the economy

Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance said:

“Today’s provisional timescale of the gradual re-opening of the economy as set out by the First Minister today is welcome, however, I know from the many conversations I’ve had with tourism businesses this week, and particularly within the last 24 hours that they were hoping for more detail around the pathway to reopening. The detail announced today does not go far enough in giving our sector the clarity needed at this point to plan for reopening.

The level system is a divergence from the route map set out by the Prime Minister yesterday and causes huge issues for businesses who we know are being contacted today with enquiries to book from those living south of the border. With no international tourism likely for some time, there is greater dependency on Scotland’s ability to attract tourism from within the UK and we need to provide a degree of reassurance that their bookings can be accommodated.

Our tourism industry is not able to accept bookings with confidence; not all will wait for our sector to gradually re-open to book. We’ve seen the huge spike in bookings from England for foreign travel over the last 24 hours and there is a great fear that Scotland’s tourism industry will lose out in what could have been a buoyant summer season.

Given that Scotland will now be opening behind England, there is an even greater need for a marketing campaign to boost late summer and autumn bookings and ensure that Scotland’s tourism industry isn’t disadvantaged in the long term. We know that people are actively searching for holidays for later in the year; the window of opportunity is now.

Our industry had hoped for the ability to trade at Easter; many of our businesses have not traded viably since September 2019 so it will be absolutely critical that robust and targeted support is offered across the tourism sector to give these businesses the best chance possible of survival until full reopening. The level of support has been insignificant for many businesses to date; it remains the case that some businesses have been without funding since the start of the crisis.

The First Minister’s reference to tapered support for businesses that are not able to reopen fully will offer some comfort; there are increasing numbers of businesses that simply don’t have funds in the bank to survive beyond Easter.

The STA looks forward to continued and immediate discussions with the Scottish Government to ensure that the right package of support is drawn up for what is undoubtedly the hardest hit sector in the economy and to gain more clarity around some of the detail announced today.”

Further Information

  • Link to today’s news release here
  • Link to First Minister’s statement here
  • Read the updated Strategic Framework here

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