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8th September 2021

 

Wild Scotland Industry Survey Results

The continued impact of COVID-19 on tourism…

70 responded to the survey across the wildlife, adventure and activity sector – including a mix of activity operators, adventure tour operators, wildlife operators and boat operators.

 SUMMARY

 

  • 45% surveyed say that they are still operating at a reduced capacity
  • 37% surveyed say they are fully open and profitable.
  • 4% of those surveyed remain fully closed.
  • 48% surveyed say they are not operating at an economically sustainable level.
  • 90% of Tour Operators that responded in the survey are not operating at an economically sustainable level.
  • 35% surveyed say they are holding 2-3 months of reserves with 10% holding no reserves.

Recruitment Challenges

  • 49% of those surveyed employ or contract between 1 and 5 people with 24 % saying they are solo operators. 10% employ or contract 5-10 people and 16% 10 or more.
  • 29% of all surveyed are experiencing recruitment challenges which relate specifically to skilled seasonal guides and instructors. Drilling this down to boat operators 50% of those surveyed are experiencing problems in this area.
  • There are a mix of reasons including lack of skilled and qualified guides/ instructors available – some have drifted into other jobs due to uncertainty in the sector. Housing of staff has also been identified as an issue in some rural areas.
  • 24% across all surveyed are currently recruiting for staff.
    • 50% of day boat operators are currently recruiting.Most significant barrier to recovery
  • The most significant barrier to recovery has been identified as lack of international visitors.
    • 52% of all surveyed say they have a reliance on international visitors.
    • 55% of activity operators surveyed have a reliance on international visitors.
    • 60% wildlife watching operators surveyed have a reliance on international visitors
    • 89% of tour operators responding in the survey have a reliance on international visitors
    • 46% boat operators surveyed have a reliance on international visitors
  • This second most significant barrier identified is the concern for lack of further funding support from UK and Scottish Government.
  • Ongoing restrictions & regulations (e.g. red./amber/green international travel restrictions, test & protect regulations etc) has also been highlighted as a significant barrier to recovery.

Winter

  • Overall, 50% say they intend to operate right through the winter with an additional 12% looking to adapt their product to operate through the winter and an additional 7% say they are not sure but are considering staying open for longer.
    • Breaking it down 64% of activity operators say they intend to operate through the winter with a further 9% planning to adapt and 5% saying they are thinking about it.
    • 30% Wildlife Watching Operators are adapting their business to operate through the winter
    • Day boat operators – 60% will not be operating through the winter and 20% intend to adapt their business to stay open and a further 20% are thinking about it.
  • There is a real mix across the sector relating to survival through the winter with 34% remaining neutral and then a balance of pessimistic and optimistic.
    • Drilling down to the activity sector there is a slightly more pessimistic view.
  • Over the next two months 32% say bookings are looking poor and 31% say they are looking good.
  • Over the next 12 months 32% say bookings are looking good, 24% say they are poor and 12% say dreadful.

Ongoing Support

  • The number one priority identified for ongoing support is ‘A further round of targeted financial support to avoid structural failure during the winter of 21/22’.
  • Increased national marketing spend on UK markets was also identified as a high priority along with increased spend on international marketing, domestic Scottish/local marketing and easing of international restrictions.

COVID Mitigating Measures

The survey shows that businesses in the sector are operating with a number of COVID mitigating measures 34% surveyed say they do not know how long they will keep these measures in place whilst 24% say they will keep measures in place indefinitely.

 

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