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The STA welcomes 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.
Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, the representative body for tourism businesses in Scotland said;
“The Cabinet Secretary’s announcement that the majority of tourism businesses can reopen on 15th July this afternoon marks a hugely positive milestone in our road to recovery in what has been an exceptionally dark few days and indeed weeks for Scotland’s tourism industry.
"The STA has pushed hard for an indicative date to be given to allow accommodation providers, visitor attractions, pubs and restaurants to plan effectively, accept bookings, make arrangements for return of their staff from furlough, conduct training and most importantly ensure that all safety protocols are in place to provide their employees and the public the confidence and reassurance they need to feel safe to return.
"One of the most frequent questions we have been asked is around the publication of guidance for reopening; it will offer huge reassurance to tourism businesses that this will be available in the coming days, giving them a full month to plan ahead to welcome visitors back into businesses across all sectors of our industry.
"We will remain hopeful that an earlier date for reopening may be given for certain sectors which are more easily placed to do so safely by their nature, for example self-catering, caravan and camping parks and would ask that continued consideration is given to this as we move further out of lockdown.
"Today’s announcement is what the industry has been asking for and we are hugely appreciative of the efforts of the Cabinet Secretary in engaging with all of our sectors to gain a thorough understanding of not only the issues and challenges but the opportunities for our sector in the months ahead.
"It remains the case that urgent solutions or alternative measures must be found or taken to overcome the current 2 metre distancing restrictions to enable economic viability for many businesses. This is especially true of the capacities on our ferries as it will significantly impact island economies where tourism is the lifeblood for so many. Whilst the package of grant support which has already made available to many small tourism businesses by the UK and Scottish Governments has been hugely welcomed, there remains a good number still in need of immediate grant support to enable them to be in the best possible position to open on 15th July.
"A longer-term support package for the sector will definitely be needed to ensure the survival of many businesses over the coming nine months. Most are reliant on there being an optimum spring, summer and early autumn trading period to cover their costs and fixed overheads in the winter months and recovery projections are still likely to be slow.
"The creation of a high-level Tourism Task Force was also one of the key asks of the STA to the First Minister and the Cabinet Secretary and we are delighted that this has been announced today. We remain fully committed to working closely with the agencies and Scottish Government both as a member of the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) and on the task force to bring about the restart and recovery of our industry.
"The reassurance that there is a summer season for tourism in Scotland will offer a huge comfort and relief to many thousands of businesses today.”