Scotland’s business community sends open letter to Ministers over “high risk economic self-harm” of testing policy divergence from UK

Marc Crothall, CEO Scottish Tourism Alliance

A group of business organisations led by the Scottish Tourism Alliance has written to economy focussed Ministers and officials seeking an urgent meeting on the renewed crisis in the tourism sector and supply chain as a result of Scottish Government policy. 

Commenting on the letter, CEO of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, Marc Crothall said: 

“The Scottish Government’s latest decision on international travel restrictions, specifically around Day 2 testing has caused serious alarm across the travel, tourism and hospitality sector in Scotland and the broader business community.

I have received a steady stream of messages over the course of the weekend from businesses presenting direct and immediate evidence of the impact of the Scottish Government’s decision on international travel restrictions; as an example, one inbound operator has been told to direct all future bookings to airports south of the border.

It is the grave concern of many that international bookings, revenue and visitors are being lost not just now but should this policy remain, it could destroy any hopes of recovery in 2022.  Unless there is a swift change, the Scottish Government’s position on international travel will effectively write off international tourism to Scotland for another year to the detriment of our businesses, communities, supply chain and wider economy.

Our industry has gone above and beyond guidance and legal requirements to protect public health and support the Scottish Government’s efforts to curtail the spread of the virus and curb cases; we have requested that a member of the Scottish Government’s public health team also attends this meeting to explain how the most recent analysis of data supports the view that international travel is driving transmission.  This policy is causing immediate damage to revenues and represents high risk self-harm for jobs and the economy in the short, medium and long term.”

Rebecca Brooks, Managing Director of Abbey UK inbound tour operator said:

“The Scottish Government’s incomprehensible decision to diverge from the UK government in maintaining PCR testing for fully vaccinated international visitors to Scotland ensures no international recovery in the short to medium term as we now lose out to England and our European neighbours.

European countries have benefitted from the safe restart of international travel without testing for the vaccinated since the 19th July.  Given the immediate onset of the booking window for 2022, there is and will be no international demand whilst PCR testing remains in place, impacting the supply chain for both leisure and business sectors. Inbound operators are now facing the bleak reality of entering a third year with little to no business whilst this colossal disadvantage remains and face potential market failure after nineteen months of no trade. I would call on the Scottish Government to urgently revise their decision or risk the survival of this sector and all of the livelihoods who depend on it.”

Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network commented:

“We simply fail to comprehend and are shocked by the Scottish Government’s decision not to align with others to remove the need for a PCR test for double vaccinated tourists and business travellers. This is not only about the tourism and travel industry, it touches every part of our economy.  Do we seriously believe that our economy will grow, and we will be able to attract investment, without being connected and accessible to the world? 

The impact, if this decision if not reversed quickly, is that we will have airlines and operators withdrawing from Scotland with businesses being forced to direct all our exporting and importing trade through other airports.  How will this support jobs in Scotland?

We need to hear and see the data which has driven this decision which is completely contradictory to leading global scientific evidence.”

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