Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston is urging the Scottish Government to ensure that the region’s beleaguered tourism sector receives the financial support it needs as soon as possible.
After questioning First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this afternoon on when support would be available, Mr Halcro Johnston, the Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Tourism, said:
“Tourism and hospitality is an incredibly important industry for Scotland, and especially so for the Highlands and Islands where it is worth an estimated £1bn and employs tens of thousands of people.
“Many businesses in the sector have been kept afloat by the UK Government’s furlough scheme and support for the self-employed, and I know that has been extremely welcome and saved jobs and livelihoods across the region.
“However, for much of the region, including the Highland Council area and Moray, the consequences of being moved straight from Level 1 to Level 4 restrictions could be devastating.
“And there are many island businesses which, now finding themselves in Level 3, have been left in a position where they are allowed to stay open and so not eligible for full support, but the trade simply is not there because of the restrictions.
“Throughout the pandemic, the Scottish Government has been far too slow to recognise and react to the real issues facing out tourism sector, despite having the resources made available by the UK Government at their disposal.
“While it’s welcome that she accepted the need for medium and long-term support for tourism, I am extremely disappointed that Nicola Sturgeon would not provide any clarity on when support payments would actually be in the hands of businesses in the sector.
“The Scottish Government’s belated response to the growing crisis facing our tourism sector now risks being compounded by their sluggish approach to getting support to those who so desperately need it.”