Results from latest survey of current performance and recovery prospects at Scottish Visitor Attractions published

We are pleased to share the results our latest survey, which was designed to gather information on the current performance, prospects and confidence levels of Scotland’s visitor attractions sector. This was a particularly important ‘snapshot’ survey as it was the first opportunity for us to take a pulse-reading of our sector since the lifting of all major COVID restrictions in January.
Undertaken from 25 April to 13 May to capture early season and Easter performance, the survey was sent to 590 organisations, representing 882 attractions. A total of 165 respondents, representing 313 attractions, took part so that very positive response rate gave us really robust data.

The key findings from the survey include:

  • Whilst the vast majority of the sector is fully open, a significant number of businesses are unable to operate at full capacity due to a combination of staffing and financial reasons.
  • The majority of the sector (over 94%) is still operating with some form of COVID-mitigating measures in place. The enforcement of such measures is, however, very light.
  • Visitor numbers and turnover figures are relatively encouraging in the first quarter of the year, with just under a quarter of respondents reporting numbers between 75% and 100% of those seen in 2019, and a further 1 in 10 reporting numbers above those seen in 2019. However, approximately 1 in 3 attractions reported numbers at 50% or under pre-pandemic levels.
  • International visitors appear to be returning – from certain markets at least – with 39.4% of respondents reporting ‘as anticipated’ or ‘better than anticipated’ numbers from Northern Europe, and a further 32.2% reporting similarly with regards to North American visitors.
  • Encouragingly, just under 60% of the sector believes their business is secure beyond the next 12 months, which compares favourably to the 16% who consider their business is insecure beyond a year.
  • Investment is taking place within the sector, with 71.5% of respondents reporting that they are investing at, or above, pre-pandemic levels in staff development and training, and almost the same number (69.8%) investing the same or more in regular maintenance, infrastructure and facilities.
  • Of concern, however, is the significant number of respondents who have reported that they are unable to take forward planned improvement and development works. Just over 29% of attractions reported less or no investment in new facilities and infrastructure in the 21/22 year, and a further 20.6% reported a significant reduction in investment in leadership development.
  • Recruitment challenges are being faced right across the country with 55.7% of the sector currently experiencing challenges in recruiting front of house staff, for both seasonal and permanent roles.

ASVA CEO Gordon Morrison summarised the survey findings by saying: ‘’This is the first survey undertaken since the lifting of all major COVID restrictions in Scotland and, encouragingly, it points to the fact that the majority within the sector are slowly moving onto the road to recovery. We are however, not there yet, and it is perhaps more accurate to describe 2022/23 as a year of consolidation for the attractions sector in Scotland, rather than full blown recovery.

“Elements outwith the sector’s control, such as the rising costs of doing business and the ever-developing cost of living crisis, are also set to have a significant impact on our ability to recover fully. Unless steps are taken to help businesses with their rising costs, it is likely we’ll continue to see the developing pattern of less investment in new facilities and infrastructure and leadership development – the very areas where we will want to see investment if we are to achieve the longer-term ambitions of the tourism industry, as laid out in Outlook 2030. To help support the recovery and encourage investment, the Scottish & UK Governments must use whatever levers available to them to reduce the financial burden on businesses, many of whom are facing considerable COVID-related loan repayments on top of other costs.’’

You can view the summary report of the survey findings here. The full report is available to view in the Members Area of our website in the Surveys & Research section.