Scotland’s tourism industry makes unanimous call for new First Minister to halt proposed ban on alcohol advertising and promotion

Marc Crothall, CEO Scottish Tourism Alliance

THE SCOTTISH Tourism Alliance (STA), the acknowledged overarching trade body and voice for Scotland’s tourism and hospitality industry has today published an open letter with a call for Scotland’s new First Minister to halt the Scottish Government’s proposed ban on alcohol advertising and promotion.

27 organisations, representing all sectors across the industry have backed a joint letter warning of grave implications for Scotland’s economy, should the blanket ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorship go ahead.

Writing to the SNP leadership candidates following the resignation of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the trade group highlights that the proposed legislation will “leave some of Scotland’s premium industries crippled in global markets at a time of monumental pressure and compromise our country’s appeal and attractiveness as a global tourist destination.”

The letter compares the scale of economic self-harm to the fall out and consequences of Brexit and goes on to add:

Restricting the ability to promote and market products responsibly will remove a vital route to market for producers, including new business start-ups, and go against the Scottish Government’s and the food and drinks industry shared aim to double the turnover of the sector by 2030. Numerous goals from the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation, recently announced by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy Kate Forbes, will be defeated by her own government’s policy.”

Calling on the new candidates to consider the impact of the proposed legislation, the letter asks:

Is there a country anywhere else in the world where policy makers would on the one hand welcome the opening of prestige state of the art visitor centres across a premium industry that is our single biggest manufactured export globally in whisky, while on the other hand introduce a policy that implies their product is too dangerous to advertise and sponsor communities, music, cultural and sports events? 

The letter highlights the vital role alcohol producers play across Scotland’s local economies adding:

“Our premium alcohol producers support tens of thousands of jobs in rural and urban Scotland. They do more to promote Scotland and its products to the world than any other industry or organisation. They are an integral part of the tourism and hospitality economy, providing a magnet of attractions for visitors from all over the world. In 2019, 2.16m visits to distilleries took place, while two in every three visits to Scotch Whisky visitor centres were from international visitors. For some rural and island communities, whisky tourism is their main form of income.  For destinations the length and breadth of Scotland that deliver and host events of all types year round, the sponsorship funding provided by alcohol producers is what enables these events to happen for the benefit of these communities .

Not only are distilleries, craft breweries and visitor centres a key part of community wealth building, they are the main source of employment in hundreds of Scotland’s rural and island communities; in the majority of these locations, there is no alternative employment.  The impact on employment would be devastating for a significant number of Scotland’s communities with subsequent mental and social health issues attached to that.

Their presence and support in hundreds of communities across Scotland is what draws thousands of visitors to experience events all over the country, throughout the year.  The impact on the local and national visitor economy will be nothing short of devastating.  Hotels, self-catering, retail, attractions and hospitality venues all depend on a flow of visitors to Scotland.  This would effectively cut off an economic pipeline for communities all over Scotland.”

The open letter has the backing and support of all 27 STA Sector Council member organisations:

  • Association of Leading Visitor Attractions 
  • Association of Scottish Self-Caterers
  • Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions
  • British Amusement Catering Trade Association
  • British Holiday & Home Parks Association 
  • Camping & Caravanning Club
  • Caravan and Motorhome Club
  • Confederation for Passenger Transport
  • Federation of Small Businesses
  • Green Tourism 
  • Hostelling Scotland 
  • National Outdoor Events Association 
  • Sail Scotland 
  • Scottish Agritourism
  • Scottish B&B Association 
  • Scottish Beer & Pub Association 
  • Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group 
  • Scottish Destination Management Association
  • Scottish Golf Tourism Development Group 
  • Scottish Incoming Golf Tour Operators Association
  • Scottish Independent Tour Operators Association 
  • Scottish Licensed Trade Association 
  • Scottish Tourist Guides Association 
  • Scottish Wedding Industry Alliance 
  • UK Hospitality (Scotland) 
  • UKInbound
  • Wild Scotland

You can read the open letter in full here

Marc Crothall, CEO of Scottish Tourism Alliance, commented: “The policy is ill-conceived, high risk and delivers self-inflicted damage to swathes of Scotland’s communities and the positioning of our country as a globally attractive visitor destination, through consequences we can only hope are unintended.”

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