ASVA/Moffat Centre re-opening survey reveals extent of challenges facing the sector

As many Scottish attractions prepare to welcome back visitors from Monday, we can reveal that the findings of our latest survey – conducted in partnership with the Moffat Centre For Travel & Tourism Business Development – highlight the extremely harsh realities our sector faces in re-opening and just how challenging its recovery will be.

The survey was sent out in the middle of April to 688 visitor attractions across Scotland, with a total of 342 surveys completed, providing us with very robust data.  A big thank you to all of you that participated, it is incredibly important to ASVA’s lobbying efforts that we have access to such robust data.  

The key results are:

  • 78.7% of the sector either intends to open at some point in 2021 or is already open
  • 12.6% of the sector does not anticipating opening at all this year
  • Of the attractions that have re-opened or will be re-opening, 55.8% will be open by the end of April 2021.  A further 20.8% will be open by the end of May
  • Of the 78.7% that are re-opening, fewer than 1 in 3 (27.1%) will be fully opening
  • Two thirds of the sector (65.4%) will be partially opening, with either reduced hours, weekends only or with some facilities closed
  • Of the two thirds of the sector partially re-opening, over 80% are unable to provide a date for when they think they will be able to fully re-open
  • Encouragingly, more than half of respondents (55.8%) stated that, once open, they intend to remain open for the rest of the year, thus extending the season 

It is encouraging that these findings indicate that the majority of the sector will be re-opening, however it is very concerning to learn that more than 1 in 10 attractions do not feel that it is possible to open this year.  It is equally, if not more concerning, that two thirds of the sector do not feel they will be in a position to fully open, with the majority stating that they will be forced to operate at reduced hours to keep costs down.

When viewed alongside the previous ASVA/Moffat Centre survey conducted in March to analyse recovery prospects for the sector, it is clear that the majority of attractions cannot fully open because it will not be economically viable to do so.  Results from the March survey highlighted that the continuation of 2m physical distancing will have economic consequences for the majority of our sector, with 54% of attractions either forced to remain closed or losing money when they do open as a result of the 2m distancing restriction.

As members will be aware, ASVA has been lobbying the Scottish Government robustly on this key issue and calling for the distancing restriction to be reduced to 1m at attractions in line with hospitality businesses.  As we highlighted in our last e-update, our meeting on Monday with the Deputy National Clinical Director, Dr John Harden, enabled us to emphasis the economic impact 2m distancing has and our latest survey findings were invaluable in equipping us to do this.  Noting all of the insights we provided, Dr Harden assured us he fully recognised the challenges faced by the attractions sector at present.  He also conveyed how impressed he was by the mitigating measures it has in place, and commended attractions for the approach they have taken towards visitor and staff safety.  Furthermore he provided assurances that 2m restrictions for our sector will be removed in the near future, just as soon as the relevant positive data comes in to provide proof that it is safe to do so.

Both the March and April surveys highlight the vulnerable position that many our sector are going to be in this year.  There can be no doubt that there will need to be continued, ongoing government financial support for considerable parts of the sector this year and we will continue to do everything in our power to secure this.

The results of the latest survey have been shared with the Scottish Government, VisitScotland, the Enterprise Agencies and other key stakeholder.

The report for April also contains a useful list of attractions that are reopening with dates of opening. We hope that members find this useful to help you align with other attractions in your area.

You can find the report here. It has also been added to the Statistic Reports and Research section of the Members Area of the ASVA website, where you will also find the results from the survey in March (and all previous survey results).