Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, responds to the current situation facing Scottish tourism due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“At VisitScotland we totally understand the need to keep the public safe and follow the guidelines being introduced by the UK and Scottish Governments. The tourism and events industries are telling us they are facing their biggest ever challenge and we share their concerns for the immediate and longer term.
“We are here to support the industry during this challenging time, working to support with the immediate priorities and doing everything we can to help in a rapidly evolving environment including providing advice and help with funding.
“The UK and Scottish Government support, announced over the last two days, has been welcomed and we hope that businesses will be able to access money quickly to help alleviate the dire cash flow problems reported across the sector.
“Today the Scottish Government has confirmed that it will replicate the UK Government’s support package in full, including 100% rate relief for businesses from 1 April and support grants of £25,000 for hospitality and leisure businesses and grants of £10,000 for businesses in the Small Business Scheme and the Rural Business Scheme. We are delighted to see such a speedy response to support the industry in Scotland.
“As we all know, the tourism industry is a resilient one as we saw after foot and mouth and 9/11 but this is already looking to be more severe and we will be working closely with the industry once we move into recovery mode.
“We are working alongside the Scottish Government and other agencies to explore all possible avenues and we will stay in daily contact with the industry to ensure new information reaches them as soon as possible.”
What VisitScotland is doing
“We have called together key players in the industry to discuss ongoing issues. The STERG group (Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group) will meet regularly to both look at the current situation and start plans for recovery.
“We will continue to survey the industry on a regular basis going forward so it will allow us to keep government informed and monitor the situation in real time.
“In the meantime, VisitScotland is pausing proactive paid for marketing activity. Understandably, people’s health and wellbeing is paramount at this moment and we believe this is the best route to take in these challenging times.
“We are looking at introducing interactive guides to promote destinations and businesses that would have been at Expo. We are also organising a virtual marketplace event – timing will depend on ability to connect. We will also want to create a regular intelligence paper with intel from key partners like OTAs (Online Travel Agents) so we are constantly looking at travel trends to allow us and the industry to know when we can restart our activity.
“Our own staff are now working from home in the light of latest government advice and we have taken the difficult decision to close our iCentres to protect both our staff and customers. We will also not be delivering any Quality Assurance or business advice visits. We will continue to respond to the tourism industry and their issues as normal through email and calls. All staff will continue to keep in touch and support their customers and stakeholders throughout this disruption.
“Tourism businesses can keep up to date with the current advice through our website and consumers will be kept informed through our website”