Sea Kayaking. VisitScotland Paul Tomkins

£2.5 million fund launched to help marine and outdoor adventure businesses restart 

A £2.5 million fund to help adventure and marine tourism businesses in Scotland prepare for the 2021 season was launched today (27 January) by VisitScotland.  

The new Marine and Outdoor Tourism Restart Fund will be administered by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government in partnership with sector groups Wild Scotland and Sail Scotland who secured this funding on behalf of their sectors. The fund is part of an overall £104.3 million package of support for tourism businesses who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and will be open for applications from midday on 2 February, with guidance on the fund launched today. 

The purpose of this funding is to support the essential re-commissioning and re-start costs for businesses, aimed at those who have been significantly affected by the pandemic due to their seasonality and high set up costs associated with the activities they deliver.  It is aimed at responsible tourism operators who provide sustainable outdoor related activities to visitors on land and water, from wildlife watching to charter and sailing holidays, bushcraft and survival to canoeing and mountaineering.  

Due to the complexity and variety of businesses within the sector, two strands have been put in place, with businesses able to apply to just one. These are for either marine and boating tourism operators or outdoor wildlife, adventure and activity sector tourism businesses. A full list of eligible businesses and guidelines can be found here: www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/funding/marine-outdoor-restart-fund. 

Scotland’s landscape and climate make it ideal for the growing interest from visitors in adventure and nature-related activities. The pandemic has seen an increase in outdoor adventures, with cycling, running and open-water swimming growing in popularity among Scots, both during and post lockdown.   

Businesses will be able to apply for grants of up to £15,000 with full details on the fund available here alongside the eligibility criteria and what information applicants will need to prepare for their application. The fund will be open for applications from Tuesday 2 February and the final amounts awarded to a successful applicant will be determined once all applications are received by the closing date of 5pm on Tuesday 9 February. 

Riddell Graham, Director of Industry & Destination Development, VisitScotland, said:  

The Scottish tourism industry has been devastated by the Coronavirus pandemic and our valuable marine and outdoor adventure sectors are no exception. Many businesses are struggling as a result of the pandemic, with more uncertainty ahead as we continue with tougher restrictions across Scotland.  

“We are pleased to be able to work in partnership with Wild Scotland and Sail Scotland to deliver the fund at a much needed time for the industry. 

“Recovery will require our collective efforts and this funding support will enable outdoor businesses to address some of the challenges they face around re-opening for 2021. Businesses across these sectors are at the heart of providing responsible, memorable experiences that connect visitors with Scotland’s great outdoors and our incredible Coasts and Waters.” 

Victoria Brooks, Wild Scotland, said:   

  
“Wild Scotland has played a vital role alongside Sail Scotland in securing this funding for such an important sector which is not only fundamental to Scotland’s economy but crucial to rural and fragile communities of Scotland. It is essential that businesses are ready to go at the start of the season, not only will they then be able to fulfil the potential demand for our incredible outdoor activities, wildlife watching experiences and marine activities, but the sector is incredibly well placed to drive the demand for tourism in Scotland which will support the wider recovery across the tourism industry.   

“Outdoor tourism has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, but it is also a sector with huge growth potential, particularly in the deliverance of sustainable and responsible tourism activities which in time will create new jobs and ensure Scotland is on the map as a world leading responsible tourism destination.     

“This fund really does highlight the importance of the outdoor sector in Scotland and the vital role it will play in the recovery post COVID-19 both economically and mentally.”  

Alan Rankin, CEO, Sail Scotland, said: 
  

“Industry surveys indicated over 75% of operators in the charter and small cruise sector secured 2 months or less of trading in 2020. Managers of local visitor moorings and pontoon services faced a vastly curtailed season, many of whom are not for profit community led groups operating on extremely thin margins.  

“The Fund aims to support operators meet the high re-commissioning and re-start costs associated with the sector and will provide much needed confidence to many operators. The importance of supporting the sector at this time of year is vital, not just for direct jobs but also the valuable economic benefits Marine Tourism brings to rural and remote coastal and island communities”.