Holiday homes and B&Bs on Skye to 'lose £9m' due to Cornonavirus

Holiday homes and bed and breakfasts on Skye stand to lose £9m this year as Coronavirus decimates the island’s tourism sector, it has been claimed.

Portree on Isle of Skye. Tourism businesses on the island fear for their future amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

Figures show the potential impact of the virus on the island’s economy with 75 per cent of those who own bed and breakfasts or self catering accommodation relying on visitors for their main source of income.

Dave Till, chairman of business group Skye Connect, said the reality of how Coronavirus will affect island business was becoming clear.

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He said there were almost 400 self catering or bed and breakfast businesses on Skye.

Mr Till said: “If we extrapolate the results of the survey to the entire B&B/self-catering sector we could be looking at £9million that may be lost from these businesses as a result of lockdown.

“This is just one part of the tourism industry and so we are starting to see the real economic impact of this crisis.”

Skye attracts around 500,000 visitors a year with the number of trips significantly rising in recent years given the reputation of its stunning natural beauty and island hospitality.

Mr Till welcomed the Scottish Government’s recent move to open up the Small Business Grant Scheme to owners of bed and breakfasts and self-catering holiday homes.

Since the research was conducted, Highland Council has announced that self-catering businesses would be eligible for the Scottish Government’s Small Business Grant schemes which can provide funds of £10,000 or £25,000.

However a “sense of desperation” was still being felt in the industry given delays in getting government funding to businesses and some banks failing to offer 0 per cent loans as indicated.

Sligachan Hotel owner, and SkyeConnect board member, Gary Curley said: “Tourism on Skye is seasonal. We have just come out of one winter with little income. Covid-19 has brought another winter with total shutdown and we face the potential of not re-opening until the start of next winter.

“No seasonal business can survive this scenario without substantial levels of support.

He said his hotel would not qualify for a Small Business Grant given its rateable value sat above the £51,000 rateable value threshold.