Routemap out of lockdown Scotland: Tourism industry in Scotland demands clarity as sector feels they are ‘lagging behind' England

The tourism industry in Scotland is urging the First Minister to provide ‘a clear and detailed plan’ for their sector as the industry claims Scotland is ‘lagging behind colleagues south of the border’ who already have firm reopening dates.

The tourism industry in Scotland is urging the First Minister to provide ‘a clear and detailed plan’ for their sector as the industry claims Scotland is ‘lagging behind our colleagues south of the border.'

The reaction comes after Nicola Sturgeon announced at Parliament that in the last week of April, Scotland could expect to see “a phased but significant” re-opening of the economy, including hospitality, non essential retail and services like gyms and hairdressers.

However, tourism industry experts in Scotland are claiming that the Scottish Government has failed to provide certainty, detail and clarity to many workers in the tourism industry.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

There is also frustration amongst those in the sector in Scotland after PM Boris Johnson announced almost all lockdown restrictions could be lifted in England on June 21.

He also announced that self-catering and outdoor hospitality including pubs could reopen as early as April 12, with indoor hospitality opening no earlier than May 17 in England.

Fiona Campbell Chief Executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) said: “The First Minister had the opportunity to provide detail, clarity, and certainty to the thousands of self-catering businesses across Scotland today and the Scottish Government failed completely to do so.

“What makes this muddle even more disappointing to us, and to Scotland’s tourism sector as a whole, is that it effectively means we are lagging behind our colleagues south of the border who already have an indicative date to reopen and as a result have already seen bookings come pouring in for late spring.

“We are now not only having to cancel and refund existing bookings, but we are also having to turn down bookings from South of the border.

According to the ASSC, the self-catering sector has yet to see any of the sectoral support packages announced on December 21 reach the bank accounts of self-catering operators.

Ms Campbell added: “There is no certainty that ongoing financial support will be forthcoming once we exit Level 4 and with no bookings in the foreseeable future many are in a perilous state.”

The Scottish Hospitality Group has also expressed that they feel “in limbo” in respect to reopening plans.

Spokesperson Stephen Montgomery said: “While the measures today may seem like a small step in the right direction we’re concerned that our industry has been offered the promise of better days to come without the detail or confidence to plan for them.

"It’s extremely frustrating for operators in Scotland to be looking at their counterparts in England who are finally able to start preparing for a return to normality with greater certainty.”

Hoteliers have also voiced their frustration.

Frank Whitaker, chair of Aberdeen City and Shire Hotel's Association said: “Today's much anticipated announcement was a disappointment to our members and the wider tourism sector, especially after the whole UK nation listened to Boris Johnson's outline yesterday of an earlier planned easing of restrictions in England."

The association are calling for the VAT reduction for hospitality to be extended for a full 12 months from the time they are able to reopen as well as the reassurance that furlough will be extended for the hospitality sector until at least the end of 2021.

A message from the Editor:Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.