A tourism recovery taskforce for Scotland

New Tourism Taskforce Established

Local MSP Kenneth Gibson reports on a new taskforce that has been set up by the Scottish government to help businesses affected by the pandemic.

As we slowly ease out of lockdown, a new taskforce has been created by the SNP Government to consider and drive forward the recovery of Scotland’s vital tourism sector.

The Scottish Tourism Recovery Taskforce is made up of more than 30 businesses with experience from across the industry. It is co-chaired by Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing MSP and Business Minister Jamie Hepburn MSP.

The taskforce has met regularly – virtually – since late June to provide strategic advice on recovering from the impact of COVID-19.

Its creation follows from the SNP Government measures including a business support package worth more than £2.3 billion and the reopening of Scottish tourism from 15 July.

The taskforce is looking specifically at developing a domestic marketing campaign to promote staycations’ as well as undertake an urgent review of access to funding support, including addressing gaps and considering future stimulus packages at both Scottish and UK level.

The group is also evaluating the investment and ownership models of larger hotels, chains and businesses and considering necessary training and skills development to support tourism and hospitality staff at this difficult time.

Going forward, as we continue to move out of lockdown, the taskforce will commission early restart and recovery plans for the events sector and more generally generate public conversation about tourism and the benefits for local and rural communities.

A range of organisations from across this diverse sector make up the group, including Alastair Dobson of A Taste of Arran from Arran itself.

The taskforce is expected to publish a report on recovery by the end of September. The taskforce itself is not responsible for delivery of the agreed recovery plans – these will be actioned through the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group and its member organisations.

Meanwhile, Arran’s MP Patricia Gibson has lobbied the Chancellor and the other seven UK MPs with island communities – three Tory, one Lib Dem and the others SNP – to extend furlough on UK islands, given the particular difficulties islands face, not least with ferries and their reduced capacity due to social distancing.

Arran’s tourism and hospitality sector has been hit hard by this pandemic and the SNP Government is doing everything in its power in partnership with island groups, CalMac, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and North Ayrshire Council to support the sector through the challenges it faces. Indeed, it will continue to consider what further support can be made available to our vital tourism and hospitality businesses.