Scotland lockdown easing: Tourism industry welcomes Nicola Sturgeon's announcement that travel restrictions will ease earlier than planned

The Scottish tourism industry has welcomed the announcement that lockdown travel restrictions will ease for tourists from April 26 in Scotland but those in hospitality and retail are still voicing concerns.

From Friday onwards, Scots will be able to travel anywhere within Scotland for the purpose of outdoor socialising, recreation or informal exercise and six adults from up to six households will be able to meet outdoors.

Travel restrictions for ‘wider purposes’ such as staying in tourist accommodation, leisure, shopping and visiting hospitality premises will remain in place until April 26, the First Minister announced at her briefing on Tuesday.

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Many in the tourism industry in Scotland have welcomed the First Minister’s date of April 26 which allows for tourists to finally be able to visit and stay in Scotland.

Ben A-an in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park with views over Loch Katrine (Picture: VisitScotland).

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said: “Today’s announcement by the First Minister is a very welcome boost to tourism and hospitality businesses across the country, providing further clarity on exactly when and where visitors can travel from.

"As we move towards 26 April, VisitScotland will look to support businesses by pulling together helpful advice on how to restart in a safe and responsible manner.

"We’re focused on the recovery of the industry, building a destination and visitor experience which allows tourism and events to flourish now and in the future. We’ll continue to work with, and support, businesses to ensure we rebuild this vital part of Scotland’s economy.

VisitScotland hopes that people will use the next fortnight to meet up with family “rather than stretching resources in familiar tourism destinations.”

Mr Roughead added: "If travelling for recreational purposes please ensure you protect community and natural resources by being responsible and respectful when visiting.”

The regional airline Loganair is also pleased to see travel restrictions easing.

Jonathan Hinkles, Loganair chief executive, said: “We are heartened to see the Scottish Government has set out a path to the safe re-opening of travel and tourism to and from Scotland’s islands – a move which has been made possible by the tremendous progress on the covid vaccination programme.

"It is great news and can’t come a moment too soon for the parts of our islands’ economies which are hugely dependent on tourism.”

However, those in the hospitality industry are still concerned about licensing restrictions, despite the news.

A spokesperson from the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, said: “We desperately need a return to licensing hours indoors, as well as alcohol sold indoors from 26 April.

“FM points to indoor reopening ahead of England, but without alcohol service it’s meaningless to licensed hospitality and little comfort to brewers.”

The Scottish Retail Consortium have also voiced concerns for their industry during the pandemic.

A spokesperson of theirs said: “Reopening alone will not be a silver bullet: stores affected by lockdown have missed out on over £2 billion over 18 weeks.

"It will take time for retailers to recover: some form of consumer stimulus is vital after this bitter winter and slow spring.”

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce has pointed to the ‘lack of detail’ in the announcement which they said “leaves businesses in the dark.”

A spokesperson from the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said: “We’re on the right track with social restrictions easing but business community needs to see the Scottish Government ease economic restrictions too.”

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