Further measures have been announced by Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing to support Scotland’s vital tourism industry.
A new Scottish Recovery Tourism Taskforce will assist with the ongoing reset of the sector - and a provisional date of 15 July has been set for when tourism businesses may be able to resume operations, dependent on public health advice and progression to Phase 3 of the Scottish Government lockdown route-map.
The taskforce will look at the sector’s recovery needs as well as actions being taken by the UK Government and the development of a new domestic visitor marketing campaign.
The taskforce is in addition to the £2.3 billion package of support for businesses across Scotland which includes measures specific to the tourism and hospitality industry such as a full year’s non-domestic rates relief and specific grant schemes which are not available elsewhere in the UK.
Mr Ewing made the announcements during a statement to Parliament. He said:
“The coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges across the entirety of the Scottish economy, but it is very clear there are exceptional circumstances facing this sector that must be recognised.
“We have acted as quickly as we can to address the significant financial challenges faced by businesses and provide a comprehensive package of support. We are also pushing the UK Government to do more, including a review of VAT rates and to consider extensions to schemes such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
“I’ve been engaging with businesses since the beginning of the outbreak and I have heard their calls for more clarity which today I can provide. Businesses should start to prepare for a provisional return to trading – with appropriate safety guidelines – on the 15th July 2020.
“This date cannot be definitive and is conditional on public health advice and progression to Phase 3 of the route map. Businesses must now use this time to satisfy the necessary regulations and adapt to the new way of living.”
Membership of the Scottish Tourism Recovery Taskforce is being confirmed and more details will follow as well as safer workplace guidance for the Tourism and Hospitality industry which is expected to be published shortly.
The Scottish Tourism Alliance has welcomed the re-opening announcements, while remaining hopeful for some sectors to open earlier, and calling for urgent measures to overcome the 2 metre distancing requirements to enable economic viability for many businesses.