The economic viability of Scotland's hospitality industry could be dramatically enhanced and the prospects for workers improved by relatively minor changes to restrictions policy, according to a new study.
The study by Biggar Economics, commissioned by drinks brand Diageo, found that adjusting opening hours by around two and a half hours and allowing alcohol to be served under strictly controlled conditions would increase hospitality business turnover from £419m to £1.1b; increasing the number of jobs supported from the current 28,300 to 60,800; and securing the viability of 1,816 businesses.
Scotland's main hospitality groups, the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA), Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) and UKHospitality Scotland, are now calling for the Scottish government to urgently implement the changes to save businesses and jobs.
The changes to restrictions would also transform the impact on public finances, turning a £261m fiscal cost of subsidy into a £63m positive tax contribution.
Chief executive of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association Emma McClarkin said: "Public health remains the paramount concern and hospitality businesses have proven they can operate safely with comprehensive Covid-19 measures in place. This economic impact study shows that relatively minor changes to opening hours and allowing businesses to serve alcohol responsibly, would transform the commercial viability of the sector."
Managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association Colin Wilkinson said: "This would create a more sustainable environment for hospitality businesses beyond Christmas and ensure more of them survive the winter, continue to create jobs and play the positive role as part of the fabric of communities the length and breadth of Scotland."
Director of UKHospitality Scotland Wille MacLeod added: "The restrictions, as currently in place, have a disproportionate impact on the hospitality sector and is costing the Scottish economy millions of pounds. A relaxation, as has been suggested by the industry would give our sector a transformative boost and help support business in the crucial recover period."
Photo: Flickr -Scottish Government