The SLTA is a member of the Scottish Tourism Alliance – the group has requested immediate additional measures from the Scottish Government to support the entire hospitality industry.
In a statement from the group, STA said:
“This morning we communicated several asks to the Scottish Government along with evidence we have been gathering over the last few days. We have participated two separate calls; one with the Covid19 Business update group and the other with Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism to discuss the urgent asks for industry in further detail within the context of a short, medium and longer term plan to support the industry.
There is now much greater acknowledgement and recognition by the Cabinet Secretary and members of Scottish Government of the severity and pace of the impacts that are currently being and soon to be even greater felt by all across the industry. Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance has also highlighted and shared what is happening in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe, pointing towards the types and levels of support being provided by governments of those destinations.
The immediate asks which have come through consultation with all types of business across the sector are set out below and it has been stressed by the STA in these calls that since these are unprecedented times, the rule book needs to be thrown out of the window.
What is clear is that much of the ability for Scottish Government to respond as we would like remains dependent on the UK government’s actions; a clear message was given for a greater push and stronger representation of the matters as they currently stand in Scotland to UK Government counterparts.
We have the commitment of a call three times a week with the Cabinet Secretary, which will be more frequent if necessary. Mr Ewing has stressed the importance of industry continuing to feed back through the channels of the STA and Visit Scotland of the impacts being felt on a daily basis.
We have also asked for more regular announcements by Scottish Government on what actions are being committed to quickly so to provide comfort and assurance that every possible thing is being done.”
Summary of the STA’s immediate asks
- Scrapping of all business rates/local taxes for all travel and tourism businesses for 2020.
- Deferring all corporation tax, VAT, PAYE and other tax payments for 12 months.
- Significant emergency loan funding for all affected businesses (as Germany is already doing).
- Paying % of the lost wages of employees on reduced time or temporary layoffs (As Germany & Denmark are doing)
- Providing full benefits and support to all staff who are temporarily made redundant immediately.
- Suspending the requirement for tour operators to refund customers who cannot travel (this affects the entire supply chain).
- Requiring the banks and landlords to offer all affected employees and businesses repayment holidays of up to 12 months on mortgages, loans, rent etc. – maybe to ease with Scot Govt guarantees
- Use the Scottish Investment Bank to support now
- Financial contribution from OTAs
- Scottish Government to abandon introduction of TVL once and for all
- Delay introduction of any and all new business regulations until impact of CV19 fully understood and dealt with
- Encouraging suppliers, such as utilities providers, to offer deferred payments terms to hospitality businesses;
- Look at all core imposed costs into business that have continued to rise and reverse out/stop
- Push the banks hard to be supportive of hospitality businesses experiencing unexpected trading difficulties and provide Scottish Government guarantee
- Commercial landlords must be encouraged to defer rent payments with Government guarantees as necessary
- Establish a SG underwritten business support fund to provide emergency cash flow via zero-interest loans and non-repayable grants
- Commit to review business rates on similar terms to proposed UKG review
- Significant additional resources to VisitScotland to promote Scotland as a destination (careful timing of campaigns)
- Although a reserved matter, Scottish Government to press UKG for reduction in tourism and hospitality VAT to (5%) to stimulate demand and support recovery
Resources for businesses
COVID-19 Business Support helpline
A helpline providing businesses across Scotland with advice and guidance on COVID-19 has been announced. The helpline, which is now live, will be open Monday to Friday, between 8.30am to 5.30pm.
The business helpline number is 0300 303 0660 – callers should select option one to speak to the COVID-19 team.
Based at Scottish Enterprise’s existing call centre in Clydebank, advisers across Scotland will answer questions from businesses related to COVID-19. The helpline will also help the Scottish Government identify the current challenges facing businesses.