Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has called for the UK and Scottish Governments to agree a 12-month support plan for tourism and hospitality to help the industries survive the Covid-19 pandemic.
At a meeting of Holyrood’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee, Ms Wishart noted that tourism businesses might survive an average of 3 months without support and asked Tourism Secretary, Fergus Ewing, whether thought has been given with the UK Government to introducing a 12 month support package to tide the tourism and hospitality sector over to the next season.
In response, the Cabinet Secretary acknowledged that problems affecting the industry won’t be over in 3 months’ time or perhaps 12 months’ time but that the specific idea of a 12 month fund hadn’t been considered yet.
Liberal Democrats at Westminster have tabled a motion demanding a 12 month financial support package for the tourism and hospitality industry.
Commenting, Ms Wishart said:
“In Shetland the tourism season is shorter compared to other areas of the UK. It looks increasingly likely that any exit from lockdown and safe re-opening of tourism and hospitality businesses could be during the low season. Without financial support to tide them over, that could be the nail in the coffin for many businesses.
“In Shetland, like elsewhere in Scotland, earnings from tourism during the spring and summer months sustains people through the winter and it is a real worry that coronavirus hit just when the visitor season was starting. It is clear that a 12-month plan, at least, is needed to ensure that viable businesses can survive to provide a living for their owners and be ready to safely welcome visitors again when the time is right.”