Rural Scotland ready to get going ahead of anticipated tourism restart

Press Release

Rural tourism and hospitality businesses are primed to assist Scotland’s economic recovery if reopening goes ahead next month.

Scottish Land & Estates has welcomed today’s statement from Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing that government is aiming for a restart date of July 15 for tourism – and the rural business organisation again signalled its support for a review of VAT applied to UK holiday accommodation.

Stephen Young, Head of Policy at Scottish Land & Estates said: “The intended resumption of tourism and hospitality on July 15 is hugely welcome news for Scotland’s rural economy. Progress still needs to be maintained in the fight against COVID-19 but this indicative target provides a date which businesses can work towards.

“We recently established that 90% of 250 rural businesses we surveyed felt they were well-equipped to reopen safely. The Scottish Government has said it will publish guidance next week for the tourism and hospitality sectors and this should hopefully provide even greater confidence for the restart.

“It would be our preference to see self-catering or caravan sites open earlier if possible but we acknowledge that government faces a delicate balance to move at the correct pace of reopening, especially with its stated objective of tourism and transport sectors resuming in tandem. Rural areas are helped by having more space and most guests will travel by private transport to accommodation so an opportunity does exist to expedite the resumption of rural tourism.

“Scottish Land & Estates and its members will continue to provide knowledge and feedback to government and the Tourism Recovery Taskforce as they progress their work. The request for a review of VAT rates on accommodation is one that Scottish Land & Estates has been calling for and we are pleased to see that the Scottish Government has also written to the Chancellor regarding this. Countries across Europe have seen their tourism sector grow, leading to significant job creation, through cutting rates of VAT and increasing competitiveness in the process. We believe this is something Scotland and the UK should be looking to capitalise on as more people plan their staycations in the near future.”