Scottish Tourism Alliance Chief Executive Marc Crothall has written to the First Minister asking for an ‘extraordinary’ package of funding from the Scottish and UK budgets to support both hospitality businesses and their suppliers ahead of the toughest level of coronavirus restrictions being applied to all of mainland Scotland for three weeks from Boxing Day, with all pubs, cafes and restaurants closing, as announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the weekend. The letter has been co-signed by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, UKHospitality and Scotland Food & Drink.
The letter acknowledges the urgent need for action in light of the threat of a new Covid-19 variant but asks for the same speediness to address the economic consequences of another lockdown.
It said, “The ask of the industry is that the Scottish Government now delivers a similarly swift and committed response to the economic consequences of this action.
“An additional upweighted ‘extraordinary’ package of funding must urgently be identified from within the Scottish and UK budgets to support both our frontline businesses and the supply chains over what will now be a significantly more challenging period than any of us had previously understood or anticipated.
“Our sector awaits further details of the Scottish Government’s £185m additional funding support announced last week which I believe will be released by the Finance Minister tomorrow. However, my understanding and concern is that due to the challenges on resources to set in place the application process and for applications to be made – that once approved – funds will not likely begin to flow into businesses bank accounts until late February.”
Marc Crothall also warns that with operators dealing with an avalanche of cancellations, many businesses could close for good not to mention the repercussions on supply chains.
“Without a more equitable and upweighted level of support being made available quickly, it is likely that many more businesses will be forced into temporary or permanent closure; operators are now dealing with a flood of cancellations and have lost much needed revenue as a result of yesterday’s announcement.
“With no opportunity to trade viably over the coming weeks and potentially months, there is a need for an even greater level of financial support to save businesses and jobs including those in the supply chain and the livelihoods of many in the local communities that the industry supports.