ASVA Board meets with Cabinet Secretary for Tourism

Today (3rd March),  ASVA CEO, Gordon Morrison and the Board of Directors were pleased to host the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy & Tourism, Fergus Ewing, for a wide-ranging discussion about the current challenges being faced by businesses in and connected to the attractions sector. During the open and honest hour-long discussion, a variety of the key challenges facing the sector were covered, including:

  • The need for clear timelines for re-opening to allow for the sector to plan accordingly.
  • The implications of the ever-increasing levels of debt that most attractions are accumulating due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
  • The impact that travel and physical distancing restrictions will have on the sector as we move out of lockdown and the need for either these restrictions to be loosened or for far more substantial ongoing financial support to be provided if attractions cannot trade viably due to restrictions.
  • The likely slow recovery for the attractions sector and the implications of there being very little opportunity to attract international visitors this year.
  • The likely need for further financial support for the sector in the winter of this year, given that there will be little opportunity for reserves to be built up in the main season.
  • How the Scottish Government intends to get the message across to domestic visitors that ‘Scotland is open for Business’ and ensure that we do not miss out on this audience, when that audience has effectively had a green light to start making plans for holidays in England.
  • How the Scottish Government can apply pressure on those insurance companies that are stalling on paying out on Business Interruption insurance claims.

Mr Ewing acknowledged all the challenges and highlighted that:

  • He is confident that the Scottish Government will move quickly to reopen the industry as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • He is aware of the desire for a plan for restart with indicative dates to allow the sector to prepare and will be stressing the importance of this with colleagues within the Scottish Government.
  • He is fully aware of the unique challenges the sector faces with regards to travel and physical distancing restrictions and the Scottish Government are revisiting this to look at how to limit restrictions when re-opening takes place.
  • He is keen to work with ASVA to look at changes to restrictions and what would be most beneficial to our sector, whilst of course still taking a ‘safety first’ approach.
  • He is aware that, for as long as restrictions are in place and the sector cannot trade viably, there will be a need for continued financial support.

ASVA will be following up with the Scottish Government in the coming days and weeks particularly to take forward the discussions around restart and restrictions.