Support package handed out to tourism groups

Tourism industry groups across Scotland which have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic are set to receive a share in a £500,000 support package offered by VisitScotland.

Industry bodies which support tourism have been hit hard by a lack of membership funds.

A total of 81 membership organisations - including The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions and Discover Scottish Gardens -have been successful in applying for the Tourism Destination and Sector Support Fund, which was launched by the national tourism organisation last month.

The successful applicants represent in excess of 10,000 tourism businesses and have been awarded grants to support their survival in the months ahead.

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The one-off fund was created in response to the devasting impact of the pandemic on Scottish tourism and was open to all destination and sector groups that have a membership base made up of entirely, or predominantly, tourism businesses.

A total of 98 applications were received requesting a total of £1.6 million.

The fund, which closed on 22 May, was originally set at £400,000 but was increased to £500,000 due to the volume of requests.

Successful applicants could be awarded up to 50 per cent of their membership income under threat due to coronavirus.

Gordon Morrison, chief executive of the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions, said: “The Tourism Destination and Sector Support Fund allows ASVA to continue to operate normally for the rest of 20/21 year, without us needing to further cut costs than we already have or reduce our operations in the short term. It will ensure that we can continue to support the attractions sector at full capacity, which makes a huge difference to us and to the sector.

“Our organisation works to a very tight budget and relies on income we bring in from members to survive. At present, we know that we cannot make asks of members to support our organisation financially, other than renewing their membership, so we have been delivering and will continue to deliver support services to the industry, such as webinars and online events, free of charge. This funding from VisitScotland will allow us to represent and support the sector for the rest of the year.”

Riddell Graham, director of industry and destination development at VisitScotland, said: “The Coronavirus pandemic has had a devasting impact on the Scottish tourism industry and this funding package for destination organisations and sector groups will hopefully go some way towards supporting them through this challenging time.

“We are pleased to have been able to increase our original funding pot to enable us to provide some funding for all eligible applicants. Even then it is unsurprising that the number of applications has been in excess of what is available and as such difficult decisions have had to be taken.

He added:“Recovery will require our collective efforts and this fund represents a great opportunity to enable a collaborative approach to meet the massive challenges set by the pandemic and ensure the best possible outcomes for the whole of the visitor economy.”

Cabinet secretary for tourism, Fergus Ewing, said: “We have a long way to go but this funding package will be a welcome boost for destination management organisations and sector groups. It will enable them to keep working with VisitScotland, tourism businesses and local communities to build a strong and safe recovery, welcoming visitors again in Phase 3 of the route map.”

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