Tourism Sector (Recovery)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 10th March 2021.

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Photo of Jamie Halcro Johnston Jamie Halcro Johnston Conservative

8. To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has for the long-term recovery of the tourism sector. (S5O-05105)

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

Recovery proposals for a five-year period are being developed by the Scottish tourism emergency response group, in consultation with members of the Scottish tourism recovery task force.

Ministers are currently considering eight short-term proposals and hope to make an announcement on those shortly. Short-to-medium-term recovery proposals should be developed by May.

We are already delivering measures, through the provision of £129 million in targeted sectoral support schemes and the launch of the tourism and hospitality talent development programme, through the Scottish Tourism Alliance and the Hospitality Industry Trust.

Photo of Jamie Halcro Johnston Jamie Halcro Johnston Conservative

Following the First Minister’s commitment on Tuesday to give indications about the reopening of hospitality and tourism—something for which the sectors have been hoping for weeks—will the cabinet secretary set out the steps that his Government and its agencies will take to market Scotland as a destination for travel from the rest of the United Kingdom, given the importance of visitors from the rest of the UK and the success of the UK’s Covid vaccination programme? Does he agree that clarity should be provided to the sector on when travel to Scotland will be encouraged again?

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

Clarity has been provided, through STERG and through our constant engagement with representative bodies in the tourism and hospitality sector.

This week, so far, I have had five meetings with tourism bodies, including two with the STA and meetings with representatives of the hotel management, Scottish wedding industry and tour operator sectors.

Our engagement with the tourism and hospitality sector allows us to inform our plans for recovery, but, of course, there is no point spending money on marketing until we are ready to restart. However, I assure the member that VisitScotland has, rightly, been working for a considerable time on restarting tourism.

I emphasise that the market in England is essential and that we want to welcome our friends from south of the border to come and enjoy Scottish hospitality again, just as soon as we can safely do so.

Photo of John Scott John Scott Conservative

The First Minister gave me an assurance a week or so ago that she would discuss with the cabinet secretary the difficulties that the bed-and-breakfast sector faces and how to overcome them. Will the cabinet secretary please say what progress has been made on that?

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

I had welcome engagement with the First Minister on tourism earlier this week, in an evening discussion with colleagues. The issue is extremely important, and I recognise that Mr Scott has, quite fairly, pursued it on various occasions.

I am pleased that Fiona Campbell, from the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, and David Weston, of the Bed and Breakfast Association in Scotland, welcomed our recently announced additional support, under the strategic framework business fund, for premises that do not pay business rates but pay council tax, which will have access to a payment of £2,000 per four weeks, which will be backdated to January. I am pleased to say to Mr Scott that that additional support has been warmly welcomed by the sector and as tourism minister I am delighted that it will enable some smaller accommodation providers, who do such a good job for Scotland, to survive and make it through to the end of the pandemic.