Covid Scotland: Travel industry hits out at Scottish Government over lack of financial support

Nicola Sturgeon has announced extra cash to help support taxi drivers, hairdressers, sport and tourism.

The First Minister said councils are now working "to get money in bank accounts as quickly as possible".

But travel industry figures accused the Scottish Government of ignoring the sector.

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Speaking during a special sitting of Holyrood on Wednesday to discuss the latest Covid situation, Ms Sturgeon said: "Last week, I confirmed the allocation of more than £200 million of the £375m in business support we are making available.

Picture: Ian Georgeson

"Today, I can confirm the allocation of a further £55m.

"Up to £28m will be allocated to taxi and private hire drivers and operators [and] £19m will support services such as beauticians and hairdressers.

"[A further] £5m will be provided for sport and an additional £3m for tourism."

Joanne Dooey, president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), the professional body for travel agents and the travel sector, said: “Scottish travel professionals are wholly at a loss to understand why we seem to be the Cinderella sector of business support.

“The travel industry in Scotland seems, once again, to have been wholly ignored by the Scottish Government’s business support package.

“In today’s announcement, the First Minister announced millions of pounds of business support for everything from tourism to beauticians, yet not a word about support for the travel sector.

“Travel agents have faced highly restricted trading – with many reporting trading at less than 10 per cent of pre-pandemic rates in our members’ survey – with minimal support.

“Travel agencies have been forced to remain open to handle refunds, rebookings and repatriations. Most have had little revenue since March 2020. We urgently need sector-specific support.

“Outbound travel is worth £1.5 billion to the Scottish economy.

“What seems to be consistently overlooked is that without outbound travel there is no inbound tourism.

"What is the point of supporting Scottish tourism businesses with £3m of business support if the travel industry, which brings them all here, has been decimated through lack of support.

“Routes take decades to develop and secure for Scotland.

"If we are unable to retain these flights, then Scotland will also lose its valuable inbound visitors [and] the benefits they bring to the economy. And it could take decades for us to restore this.”

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