A new taskforce created to drive forward the recovery of Scotland’s vital tourism sector is to meet for the first time.
The Scottish Tourism Recovery Taskforce (STRT) 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 will meet regularly in the coming weeks to provide strategic advice on recovering from the impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19). Its creation follows a package of measures including the recently published tourism and hospitality guidance and a business support package worth more than £2.3 billion.
The taskforce is to agree its key priorities but will broadly look to:
develop a domestic marketing campaign to promote the staycation market
undertake an urgent review of access to funding support including addressing gaps and considering future stimulus packages at both Scottish and UK level
evaluate the investment and ownership models of larger hotels chains and businesses
consider necessary training and skills development to support tourism and hospitality staff
commission early restart and recovery plans for the event sector
generate public conversation about tourism and the benefits for local and rural communities
Speaking ahead of the Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Committee, Mr Ewing said:
“Scotland’s tourism and hospitality sector has been hit hard by this pandemic and we do not underestimate the crisis this has created. The Scottish Government has been doing everything in its power to support the sector through the challenges it faces.
“We’re continuing to listen to industry and exploring how we can help. That job is not yet finished and we are looking at what further support can be made available to tourism and hospitality businesses.
“Today’s meeting of the STRT is a key milestone in the recovery of tourism and hospitality in Scotland. A range of organisations from across this diverse sector will come together to share ideas and expertise on how we can overcome the challenges COVID-19 continues to present.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP, who is a member of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee, mentioned commented:
“As someone who represents a beautiful constituency which includes places like Arran, Cumbrae and Seamill, I am well aware of the damage the coronavirus pandemic has inflicted upon the tourism sector and economies reliant on tourist income. I have raised the plight of businesses operating in this sphere in Parliament several times but it remains a very complex situation.
“I am particularly pleased that Alastair Dobson of A Taste of Arran will serve on the STRT, to represent island interests.
“The announcement that people will have more freedom to travel again as of next weekend is helpful, as long as visitors strictly adhere to social distancing regulations and shop locally while they visit instead of bringing everything from the mainland.
“While support in the form of funding has been helpful, recovery indeed requires a more considered approach and the taskforce will be a good vehicle for that. I look forward to its findings in September.”