Experts at VisitScotland have predicted that the tourists of the near-future to want to head to some of Scotland’s most scenic destinations – but hide themselves away in self-catering cottages.
Senior insight manager Chris Greenwood suggested some resorts could offer luxury “isolationist” breaks in Scotland for overseas visitors who have to quarantine.
He believes that a cautious approach from the first wave of tourists, who will have social distancing as “a key part of their psyche”, could help allay fears from remote communities about the risks of an influx of visitors.
Greenwood suggested that, while social distancing restrictions remain in place, hotels and restaurants in rural areas could bolster business by launching new takeaway or delivery services.
Speaking in an online Q&A session, Greenwood said early analysis of travel industry trends found there was a “pent-up demand” which could see a “strong recovery” for Scotland’s domestic market this year – if enough accommodation is available and businesses can adapt to new hygiene demands.
He said: “By late summer we may be able to get the reopening of self-catering accommodation, holiday parks and visitor attractions.
“From the multiple surveys I’ve seen recently, it is clear that consumers want to travel and get out and about, but they will also want to isolate and be reassured that tourism products will meet and exceed the hygiene standards that they expect.
“Tourism businesses are the heart, soul and lifeblood of communities, particularly in rural areas. There is evidence that people are apprehensive about visitors coming straining local resources. But that is juxtaposed by the traveller who is concerned about maintaining a social distance.
“I think we’ll be looking at businesses who can deliver really personalised services and also places where people can really control their environment and self-isolate, and day trips to rural and isolated areas where people can get out and about, but where they can also be alone.
“The real advantage self-catering businesses have got is that the visitor will be able to completely control their own environment.
“One of the areas we see moving forward is with self-catering businesses working with local hotels and restaurants so they can maybe provide quality take-away food or offer a delivery service or provide meal kits for people on self-catering or camping holidays.
“If we’re implementing quarantine, we may find that 14-day luxury resort stays might suddenly become attractive. In future, isolationalist holidays could see people collected at their airport by their resort and whisked away for their quarantine there.”
Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the Association of Scotland's Self-Caterers, said: “As Scotland’s tourism industry emerges from lockdown, self-catering will have an important role to play in getting our sector back on its feet.
“Many of our members operate their properties in remote and isolated locations all over Scotland and so are well-placed to offer relaxing, peaceful, and calming breaks away from towns and cities.
“Cleaning protocols and following the rules set by the Scottish Government will be paramount in this early stage and all ASSC members will commit to implementing these measures in full.
“Our industry has been hit hard by COVID-19 and being able to open at the earliest possible opportunity would help us, Scotland’s economy, and would let our guests enjoy the unique kind of holidays we offer and to do so in a safe way.”
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