More than 80 businesses across Scotland have set up a Hospitality & Tourism Action Group calling for a UK-wide reopening of businesses on 17 May.
The group is asking for Scotland to align to the dates set out in England, where indoor dining and hotels are hoped to reopen on 17 May, as well as clarity on travel and tiers. The group has launched a petition here.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday that Scotland could return to levelled restrictions, with a "substantial reopening" of the economy, including hospitality, beginning on 26 April.
It is hoped that from the end of April areas under level four rules will be able to move back to level three, which means hospitality can open but with a 6pm curfew and a ban on serving alcohol.
The action group is being led by Tanja Lister, owner of the 11-bedroom Kylesku hotel in Sutherland, and backed by businesses including the Torridon (pictured) in Wester Ross, Mackays hotel in Caithness, Knockendarroch in Perthshire, Cringletie House in Peeblesshire and Kinloch Lodge on the Isle of Skye.
The Hospitality & Tourism Action Group is urgently calling for the Scottish government to act urgently on five key requests:
- Confirm indicative date for re-opening of the sector on the understanding that dates might move if the scientific data changes.
- Align with the rest of the UK for a strategic four nations approach with a full reopening of the tourism and hospitality industry on 17 May.
- Clarity on travel and tiers.
- An immediate review of financial support for Scotland's hospitality sector, including grants at least in line with those provided during the first lockdown
- Longer-term financial help, including furlough until 2022, the 5% VAT cut to remain until at least the end of 2021, and postponed repayment of Bounce Back Loans and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans.
Lister said: "We're calling for a more strategic alignment of tourism opening across the UK. The current plans, confusion and loss of confidence risk devastation for our industry and the lives and livelihoods linked to it.
"Also, the financial support on offer in 2021 is very much lacking in comparison to last year. We're calling for full, proper furlough, reinstated until businesses are allowed to open. Anything less risks many of our businesses not reaching the starting line. We need more meaningful grant support that is index-linked to the rateable value of businesses. Leaving our businesses with such a significant shortfall now risks some falling at the last hurdle and would result in previous financial support having been in vain."