Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has reinforced the need for a 12-month support package for Shetland’s tourism and hospitality industries to help the sectors survive the impact of Covid-19. Ms Wishart made the case again to Tourism Secretary, Fergus Ewing during a Holyrood virtual question session.
Ms Wishart told parliament that Shetland has a shorter tourist season that mainland Scotland and that some in the industry have likened the prospect of a recovering from Covid-19 as “having to first survive three winters”. Ms Wishart asked the Tourism Secretary if the government will consider a 12-month “bespoke” support package for Shetland to help the visitor economy survive until next year.
Ms Wishart previously raised the matter during a meeting of Holyrood’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee in May.
Mr Ewing replied that he recognised the shorter tourism season in the Islands and that he had “sympathy with the general argument” for a 12-month package. Mr Ewing said that a case had been made to the UK Government for more tourism support.
Commenting, Ms Wishart said:
“It will be some time before the tourism and hospitality industries recover to pre-Covid-19 levels. Long-term and reliable support is crucial if businesses are to be able to survive and plan for the future.
“There are countless businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors that haven’t been able to get the financial support they need. Indeed, some businesses haven’t had any support at all. The prospect of no more support being available when grant funding runs out is worrying.
“There has been real growth in Shetland’s visitor industry in recent years. It is an important part of Shetland’s economy and must be supported so that we can welcome visitors again when the time is right.”