March 18th 2020 Update

We really do appreciate what a devastating time this is for each and every one of you. We will do whatever we can to help.

Many of you have been in touch directly, which we appreciate. We are feeding back any information we receive on a daily basis to the Scottish Government and other industry partners. We are working with other sectors to see what we can do right now and in the future to support in the best way possible.

Wild Scotland sits on the Scottish Tourism Emergency Responses Group representing our members – large and small. Meetings will take place on a regular basis and will give Wild Scotland the opportunity to feedback on behalf of members and the wider sector.

Regular feedback required
We intend to update you as much as possible. Please get in touch regularly to let us know how you are doing and what the challenges are. We understand these will change from day to day.

Should we / should we not cancel?
There is definitely confusion about whether or not to cancel visitors over the next month or so… Many of you are working in healthy outdoor conditions and there is little risk as long as the recommended social distance is kept. We are seeking advice regarding this and hope to be able to come back with something solid over the next few days.
The most important thing to remember is the health of your visitors, staff and yourself. This must not be put at risk.

In the meantime I hope the following information will give you some guidance:

Gathering evidence
Make sure you gather evidence of cancellations and other impacts on your business such as redundancies and cash flow. This will be crucial when it comes to making a claim and accessing grants.

Wellbeing of you and your staff
Mental health wellbeing is top priority. In these difficult times it can be hard to know which way to turn. Not only are you having to think about your own survival / putting food on the table but many will have elderly and vulnerable family and employees that they care about.
Don’t be alone, please seek advice. Talking about it really can help:

Can your business help in the community?
Communities will be reaching out to people and businesses over the next few months. Are you are in a position to support your local community? If cash is an issue then why not look into other options such as crowd funding?

If you are in a position to help in your community be sure to let us know. Lets spread some positive messages across our sector.

Keep us informed of any changes to your business and marketing
At the moment it is about survival and the key priority is to get through the next few months.
Although we do not know what the future holds and how long this crisis will last, some of you will be thinking ahead to re-building your business.
The priority right now is to ensure you maintain good relationships with your customers – keep them smiling and keep them inspired.
Then you need to make sure you are ready to market when the time is right. Think very carefully about who your target market will be as this may well have changed…

The focus for the rest of the year may well be on domestic markets and staycations. You might need to re-think your marketing strategy to appeal to different markets.

Timing is key but make sure you are ready.

Top tips during Coronavirus Crisis for Wildlife, Adventure and Activity Operators: we sent this out to members last week – here it is again in case you want another look.

Member to member support
Kathi Kamleitner – Watch Me See: Kathi is one of our newest members and is very keen to help the Wild Scotland network over the next month or so.
Kathi is putting together a blog which will promote a range of activity vouchers. It may or may not work, but is worth a try and may help some businesses with cash flow.
If you would like to be included in the blog, please get in touch directly with Kathi: kathi@watchmesee.com

If you have an idea to help the Wild Scotland community then please get in touch…

Membership
If you are not already a member, now is the time to join. We rely on members to support the work we are doing – representing each and every one of you as the VOICE of the Wildlife, Adventure and Activity Sector in Scotland.
Membership is from £100. JOIN US NOW and be heard.

Coronavirus – the very latest update

  • Meetings have taken place with STA, Scottish Government, agencies and industry to ensure clear and concise messaging across the tourism sector. There will be one survey across the industry which will be issued once a week. If you could respond to this we would be very grateful. Collating information from businesses at this stage is crucial to ensure the right support is given. Survey to follow.
  • Statuary Sick Pay will be paid from first day of absence where people have the virus, have to self-isolate or care for such people
  • There will be support for self employed and others not entitled to SSP – this will be through Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance.
  • Full funding of the cost of two weeks’ SSP for small and medium-sized employers whose workers have claimed SSP as a result of coronavirus.
  • Businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress will be able to negotiate ‘time to pay’ arrangements with HMRC without incurring late payment penalties.

At a press conference on Tuesday 17 March, the following additional measures were announced.

  • Any business that needs access to cash to pay their rent, salaries, suppliers, or to purchase stock, will be able to access a government-backed loan on “attractive terms” (which have not yet been specified).
    • That support will be delivered to small and medium businesses via the new Business Interruption Loan Scheme (announced at the Budget), which will now provide loans of up to £5 million, with no interest due for the first six months.
    • The scheme will be up and running by the start of next week.
  • Retail, hospitality and leisure sectors
    • All businesses (not just those with a rateable value of less than £51,000, as previously announced), will pay no business rates for 2020/21. 
    • Those businesses with a rateable value below £51,000 will also be eligible for an additional cash grant of up to £25,000 (i.e. cash payment from the government) per business, to help them through this period.
      • This means that every single shop, pub, theatre, music venue, restaurant , etc. will pay no business rates whatsoever for 12 months and, if they have a rateable value of less than £51,000, they can now get a cash grant as well.
  • The 700,000 or so small businesses that are already eligible for 100% business rates relief will receive a grant of  £10,000 (not £3,000, as previously announced) to help with business costs. We are waiting to hear as to how and when this can be accessed and will let you know as soon as possible.

For those individuals in difficulty due to coronavirus, mortgage lenders will offer at least a three-month mortgage holiday, so that people will not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage while they get back on their feet.

Separately, speaking in Parliament on Tuesday evening, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay said: “The government is postponing the reforms to the off-payroll working rules, IR35, from 6 April 2020 to 6 April 2021.”

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, intends to come forward with proposals next week to help those unable to work due to coronavirus. In some other countries, such support has included the government paying a large proportion (sometimes over 75%) of the person’s normal salary or self-employed earnings for several weeks. We await to see if the UK will go down a similar route.

Other sources of advice/information regarding Coronovirus