Seasonal Businesses

– in the Scottish Parliament on 7th May 2020.

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Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

The cabinet secretary will recognise that a large number of seasonal businesses in my constituency and others face the prospect of going from September 2019 until—probably—Easter 2021 with virtually no income. I recognise the need for the current restrictions, but communities such as mine are very dependent on seasonal businesses and face a particularly difficult situation. What is the Scottish Government doing to recognise that?

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

Dr Allan makes a strong point, which applies to many of our islands and to our more remote rural communities. Various types of activities, such as tourism, are highly seasonal in nature and those businesses tend to derive their income from the period between Easter and autumn. That is a factor, not only for tourism but for other areas of the economy as well.

The impacts on tourism of Covid-19 have been extreme. Basically, there is no tourism at the moment and, indeed, as we touched on earlier, any tourism activities are offences. There is a need for Governments to recognise that, post-Covid-19, the impacts are going to be very serious, especially on our islands, and especially on those communities whose survival depends on the continuance of successful, easily conducted economic activities. I entirely accept that general proposition.

It is difficult to overstate our concern about tourism businesses on the islands. I have fairly recently discussed the issue with the Hebrides tourism body, which offered the view that it does not really expect any significant recovery at all this year for the Outer Hebrides. That is a pretty bleak prognosis. It is our responsibility to work with Dr Allan, the local authority and the local MP to address the problems in an effective fashion, and we will certainly be doing that.