TWO new funding packages worth £15 million will support the tourism sector as it continues to feel the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
A £14 million Hotel Recovery Programme will help to secure up to 3,000 jobs at Scotland’s larger hotels until the start of the summer 2021 tourism season.
Eligible businesses can apply for individual grants of up to £250,000 in addition to a suite of wrap-around business support and advice.
The Programme will be jointly administered by the Scottish Government’s enterprise agencies and builds on the existing funding and support for tourism businesses through the Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Hardship Fund and the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund.
VisitScotland will also deliver £1 million in grants to self-catering businesses that have not received any other Scottish Government COVID-19 support. Businesses that apply and meet the criteria will be eligible for a one-off £10,000 grant to support them through the winter season.
Fergus Ewing, tourism secretary, said: “We recognise the important contribution the hotel sector makes to tourism and the wider Scottish economy, supporting approximately 46,000 jobs across the country.
“Scotland is home to many of the world’s iconic hotels and they, like much of the sector, have suffered considerably this year from the impacts of coronavirus. The Hotel Recovery Programme is a dedicated funding package designed to safeguard jobs in these establishments and offer some security until the new tourist season begins in summer 2021.
“The Scottish Government is doing everything in its power to support the tourism industry, however without significant borrowing powers at our disposal this action will always be limited.
“Whilst we very much welcome measures taken by the UK Government, such as accepting our call to cut VAT rates for the tourism industry, longer-term support for jobs is necessary.
“I hope the UK Government responds positively to our ask for an extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.”
Marc Crothall, Scottish Tourism Allicance chief executive, said: “The programme will go some way in helping to secure many of the hotel jobs in the short to medium term which would most likely otherwise be lost.
“Hotel occupancy levels across the country continue to track significantly below the breakeven levels needed to meet the day to day overheads of running a business and the forward outlook is no different.
“The £14m pot of cash whilst sizeable is however limited and there won’t be enough to support all the hotels that are in need of immediate financial support to help them survive, recover and maintain their previous staffing levels.
“It remains the case that without this support and other forms of longer-term support and relief in the future, many of Scotland’s hotels will remain at significant risk of being forced into permanent closure which will result in many more thousands of jobs still being lost.
“We remain grateful for the acknowledgement that Scottish tourism is an industry in crisis and in need of urgent and longer-term support and the Scottish Tourism Alliance will continue to make the case for longer term funding with the Scottish and UK governments.”