Scotland’s Tourism Industry asks Scottish Government to review Social Distancing Parameters.
In a joint letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, industry bodies, including the SLTA, asked that the Scottish Government give careful evaluation and due consideration to agreeing to a 1m parameter for social distancing, as in some other countries, to avoid the collapse of many parts of the tourism sector and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.
The letter was co-signed by all organisations which sit on the Scottish Tourism Alliance Council.
You can view the letter in full here.
Meeting with the Cabinet Secretary
The SLTA participated in a full meeting of the Scottish Tourism Alliance Council held on the 2nd of June at which Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism attended. Addressing the Council at the beginning of the call, Mr Ewing said:
“I am determined to see two things happen. One is the overall payments for hardship to get through to as many possible and secondly, that we can see the return of tourism activity when it is safe to do so. These tasks are dominating most of my time at the moment.
I am working hard with the enterprise agencies to ensure that the turnaround of applications is as swift as possible. I know the teams are working hard, including weekends to get through them. There are a number of problems with the process. I have indicated that reasons for refusal of the grants should be given to people. I think a phonecall with someone who has been turned down is only fair. There are other gaps we can fill, most notably B&B who do not have a business bank account.
In relation to recovery, resumption and lifting restrictions. We are proceeding cautiously. There are many communities where there is not a desire to resume tourism immediately. The next couple of weeks or so are going to be the critical period in terms of tackling Covid. I am confident that if we can tackle Covid, we can retrieve the season for many businesses.
My aim is to retrieve as much of the season that I can but it has to be guided by the science. I am making a statement next week and hope to set out more then.
In the work we’re doing for recovery, there are some things that are critical and we need businesses to take a lead in recovery which I know you’re doing with Willie Macleod and Kate Nicholls from UKHospitality. You also need to give a lead in restoring confidence in the public in terms of safety. I know a huge amount of work is being done by many of the people on this call and others. DMOs, local businesses have a key role to play in reassuring the public that things are safe.”
The Cabinet Secretary took questions from members of the STA Council including the SLTA
Scottish Licensed Trade Association – Stephen Montgomery
- The Scottish Government have had discretion about how the grant schemes have been structured and we have seen that from the start when the UK grants were 100% per multiple property and in Scotland it was one per business and then the move to 75% for multiple properties. Last Tuesday we saw the announcement from Fiona Hyslop that businesses with a cumulative value of over £51k was now eligible, with this in mind, where did the extra money come from and why is there still no support for businesses with a RV >£51k for a single property, these businesses are now in a state of failure with no grants or the PERF?
- 42 days ago I wrote to Kate Forbes and still haven’t had a response.
The SLTA awaits a response from the Finance Secretary.
In closing the Cabinet Secretary said:-
“I do hear the concern and anger in what you say. If we don’t tackle the virus in the next couple of weeks, all bets are off. Without further pressure from the STA, The Treasury is unlikely to make any further funding available.
We will communicate the concern about the flow rate in grants to the enterprise agencies. Enterprise agencies had the view that they wanted to go through all the applications to ascertain the cumulative ask. I understand they are very close to making significant progress in getting through the applications.
The points coming from the islands are the most serious. If we are going to open tourism Scotland, I want very much to see that the islands benefit. The difficulty is that ferry traffic is the only way of getting to the islands. The issue of the 2m is under consideration and there will be a decision from the Prime Minister by the 10th June.
It is absolutely essential that we reinstate air travel to Scotland, which is not easy under the current quarantine restrictions. On hygiene and cleaning, we need to finalise arrangements for crossover for self-catering and hotels.
A signal or date when there would be a resumption is the main aim of the call today and I have indicated that a three-week minimum period of notice would be desirable.
We are not tied to a three-weekly cycle in terms of lifting restrictions, although we are working to the 18th June being the date for some outdoor activity within the sector. Unless we can tackle the virus, we’d be giving a date and potentially retracting the date. I hear what everyone is saying about the desire to have clarity and strong messaging and I would like to navigate this internal process as quickly as we can so that we can see a resumption by Phase 3. I am well aware of the case for self-catering, caravans and camp sites – we are in deep discussion with those sectors but I always want to ensure that other accommodation providers that can impose the social distancing restrictions safely can open too. I want to see the season open in July but I can’t set a date.
We do think there will need to be a distinct marketing campaign by Scottish and UK governments to reassure people about reopening and I have made the case to my Cabinet colleagues. I have asked VisitScotland to plan for this. Malcolm Roughead and Bettina Sizeland (Scottish Government) are working for me to take forward the recovery plan as a whole. A lot of people have strongly held views about ‘incomers’ bringing the virus in and in order to assuage those fears, we do need a strong government consistent message and I will be working with my colleagues in Scotland and Nigel Huddleston from the UK Government. DMOs, local businesses and chambers all have a role to play in this.
In conclusion, I do feel criticism is justified in relation to the financial packages and the messaging that’s coming and I do want to take both of these forward and try to give a glimmer of light at the end of a very long tunnel.”