Scottish Government pledges support to tourism as a priority for economic recovery

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament yesterday (26th May), setting out the priorities for the Scottish Government, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that tourism is recognised as a priority industry and will continue to receive support to aid the recovery of the country’s economy.

The most immediate priority for the Government, Ms Sturgeon said, is to lead Scotland safely through and out of the pandemic. She referred to the ‘ambitious programme to drive recovery’ her party set out during the election campaign and stated that the Government is now intent on delivering on those commitments.

Listing a number of key ways in which the Government will promote economic recovery, Ms Sturgeon said: “We will support specific business sectors – including food and drink, and tourism.”

In addition to acknowledging the industry’s importance to the economy and pledging the Government’s commitment to supporting it as a priority, Ms Sturgeon referred to a number of related sectors and areas that it will also focus on to drive Scotland’s recovery.

These included the Government’s intention to publish a plan for the safe reopening of cultural venues and performances and to support the events sector. Promoting fair work and sustainability, or ‘a green recovery’ have also been identified as priorities in planning for and delivering Scotland’s economic resurgence from the impact of COVID-19.

Highlighting her belief that Scotland is now on the right track out of the pandemic, Ms Sturgeon also said that within the next three weeks, the Government plans to set out its expectations for the stage beyond Protection Level 0 – and importantly, the restrictions that will still apply and affect business operations for our industry and sector.

ASVA Chief Executive Gordon Morrison said: “The First Minister’s confirmation that tourism will be a priority for Scottish Government support is very welcome news for the attractions sector, which is a major contributor to the country’s £11 billion industry. It is now imperative that we hear how and when the country will move through and out of the current Levels system. Even at Level 0, there are currently restrictions that will impact on viable trading in our sector. We therefore need a clear plan for how and when these restrictions will be safely removed.

“The recent appointment of Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, Ivan McKee MSP – supporting Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy Kate Forbes MSP – transferred tourism into the Government’s economy portfolio.  This is a significant development for our sector as it demonstrates the Government’s acknowledgement and recognition of the pivotal role tourism – and our hugely important sector – will play in driving Scotland’s economy and leading its recovery.”