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by Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland
19 January 2022
Associate Feature: Rebuilding and recovery

Associate Feature: Rebuilding and recovery

Just when prospects of recovery for Scotland’s tourism and events industry were looking better, the emergence of the Omicron variant has delivered another blow to our industry.

The latest restrictions put in place have been particularly challenging for businesses. Hopes of a festive boost did not materialise, as concerns around the public health situation led to cancellations and a loss of customers.

Much-needed immediate funding of £28.8 million from the Scottish Government will help businesses, operators and events organisers with support in the short-term. We’re playing our part, with VisitScotland administering funding of £9m for tourism and £19.8m for events via EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.  Many businesses are struggling and we want to ensure that those eligible can access funding as simply and quickly as possible.

We’ve been working to ensure the funding will go to businesses most in need, in the quickest way possible. Following discussions with Scottish Government and Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) to establish the sectors eligible for funding, these have been confirmed as: coach operators, day tour operators, hostels, inbound tour operators, outdoor and marine and visitor attractions.

For events, EventScotland is working with the Scottish Government and the Event Industry Advisory Group (EIAG), a group of senior leaders from across the industry, to determine how funding will be distributed to those who need it most.

Throughout the pandemic, our leadership of both EIAG and STERG has generated significant levels of support for Scotland’s events and tourism industry.  As part of the £25m tourism recovery programme, VisitScotland is responsible for delivery of several ‘phase one’ projects which are providing essential support in the short to medium term.

Longer term, our approach recognises that recovery for the sector will require a coordinated policy response from the UK and Scottish Governments as well as continued project funding.
Though it will take years and significant investment for the industry to thrive again, there is little doubt that tourism and events will be an important part of wider economic recovery throughout 2022 and beyond. Pre-pandemic the tourism industry was worth £11.5 billion to the Scottish economy, accounting for 8.5% of jobs, showing that our industry has the capacity to lead recovery and drive innovation and investment.

Tourism is a force for good – creating economic and social benefits in every corner of Scotland.
As well as its huge economic benefits, it helps to tackle issues around everything from depopulation to health and wellbeing.  Tourism and events are a catalyst for job creation and entrepreneurialism, and while the tourism wellness trend was growing before the pandemic, recent events have raised awareness of the importance of wellbeing, both physically and mentally. We’ve published papers which looked at the long-established relationship between tourism and wellbeing and the role of wellness in the visitor experience.

If the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic begin to recede and the industry gets the right support and investment, 2022 can be that year that sees tourism and events recover, and once again deliver those benefits to communities right across the country.

This article is sponsored by VisitScotland.

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