Some of the leading names in Scottish hospitality have come together to propose a joint approach between England and Scotland to fully unlock and reopen the tourism and hospitality industry on 17th May.
Led by Tanja Lister from Kylesku Hotel in Sutherland, the ‘Hospitality & Tourism Action Group’ campaign is being backed by over 80 hospitality and tourism businesses across the country, including Edinburgh’s Prestonfield House Hotel and Archerfield Hotel; Mackays Hotel in Caithness; East Lothian’s Ducks Inn; Knockendarroch Hotel in Perthshire; Cringletie House Hotel in Peebleshire; Chester Hotel in Aberdeen; Kinloch Lodge Hotel on the Isle of Skye; as well as Cromlix, Perthshire.
Responding to the Scottish Government’s roadmap out of lockdown announcement at Holyrood last Tuesday, the new Group has set out its own timeframe for getting the industry back on its feet again after almost 12 months of government-imposed lockdowns and other trade restrictions.
It is calling for the Government to ‘act urgently’ on five requests:
1. Confirm indicative date for re-opening of sector as happened last summer, on the understanding that date might move if the scientific data changes.
2. Align with Westminster for a strategic approach. Full unlock and reopening of the tourism and hospitality industry on 17th May, earlier for self-catering.
3. Clarity on travel and tiers. With international travel highly unlikely to happen before later in the year, the industry needs to maximise the opportunities from within both Scotland and the rest of the UK. Greater clarity needed about the logic of placing the whole country into Tier 3, which is effectively ongoing lockdown of the industry when the data, even now, with two months to go would seemingly point toward a logic of lower tiers as judged by the Scottish Government’s previous own parameters.
4. Conduct immediate review of financial support for Scotland’s hospitality sector which is significantly lagging behind the support given in 2020.
4a. Significantly more meaningful grants, at least in line with those provided during the first lockdown (i.e. the £25k given for 3.5 months). This needs to be index linked to rateable value. Whilst it is welcome news, the planned rates relief for the whole year does not address the immediate shortfall in cash.
4b. The employer contribution element of furlough is prohibitive and penalises those with larger teams. Call for immediate full furlough in the same vein as early 2020. If this is not possible then larger grants for those with more employees.
5. Longer term financial help to recognise impact of another shortened season. To include furlough until 2022, 5% VAT cut to remain until at least the end of 2021 and postponed repayment of Bounce Back Loans and CBILs.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on February 23 plans to release Scotland from lockdown in a phased approach, starting from late April. The measures would see the country return to level three of restrictions, which have yet been confirmed, but are expected to be unviable for hospitality businesses with restrictions on selling alcohol and closure times.