Hospitality and Tourism Industry to re-open on the 15th July (dependent on public health advice).
Tourism Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, has today announced that, dependant on public health advice, Scotland’s vital Hospitality and Tourism Industry can re-open on the 15thof July.
In 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.”
Further supportive measures have also been announced with the formation of a new Scottish Recovery Tourism Taskforce which will assist with the ongoing reset of the sector. 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.
In responding to the announcement the SLTA Managing Director, Colin Wilkinson said:-
“We welcome the Scottish Government’s announcement that Scotland’s pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants will re-open on the 15thof July. With a month’s lead in time, this also allows business owners to prepare their operations to comply with both Government and industry guidelines, currently being finalised and due for publication on the 18thof June.
This indicative date is an important step to a return to some sort of normality, but the main question now is what the social distancing parameters will be. The SLTA and other industry bodies have asked the Scottish Government to give serious consideration to reducing the current 2m parameter as we have seen in other countries and to bring the level in line with the World Health Organisation. If the current distancing measures are maintained, normal capacities could be reduced by between 60% and 80% and each business will need to assess the practicalities, cost and viability of complying with the new guidance.
The SLTA also welcomes the efforts of the Scottish Government to seek a VAT reduction for the Hospitality and Tourism sector which will be pivotal to attract not only foreign tourists to Scotland, but staycation visitors as well.
The announcement that unallocated grant funding will be assessed and redirected to those businesses who have not been able to access this support before is also welcomed and will perhaps bring some hope to those tourism and hospitality business who have been ignored so far. If this funding is to be re-routed to help businesses through the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund or Hardship Fund we must see a greater increase in the number of successful applications as industry research shows that, as of last week, only 14% of applicants have been successful with their applications for these grants, the rest either having failed or still waiting to hear. These businesses need that support now and all business will continue to need ongoing support if the industry is to survive and rebuild over the coming months. Already we hear of business closures and redundancies within the industry and if businesses and jobs in the Hospitality and Tourism Sector are to be saved, support must be given now.
Time is of the essence and the clock is ticking too fast for too many”.