The Scottish government has confirmed a £9 million financial package for the domestic tourism sector to mitigate the impact of the Omicron variant.
The funding will be administered by VisitScotland and split between businesses in the inbound tourism sector – but does not include travel agencies or tour operators selling outbound travel.
The sectors earmarked for support in today’s announcement are: coach operators, day tour operators, hostels, inbound tour operators, outdoor and marine, and visitor attractions.
Tourism minister Ivan McKee said: “We recognise that the public health measures necessary to limit the spread of Omicron have had a severe economic impact, especially for affected businesses in the hard hit tourism sector.
“We have now allocated up to £9 million to help ease the impacts of the pandemic on Scotland’s world-class tourism sector and ensure that affected businesses can survive what is clearly an especially tough winter period and be ready to trade fully in the spring and summer months.
“We know this won’t cover all losses and will continue to press the UK government for more comprehensive support.”
VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said the funding would provide “crucial support” to help businesses affected by the steps taken to tackle the spread of the Omicron Covid variant, adding that the tourism sector still faced “significant challenges”.
He said: “We recognise that many businesses are struggling, and we are working to ensure that those eligible can access this funding as simply and as quickly as possible. Further details on this will be shared next week.”
The news was welcomed by UKinbound as a “vital lifeline for Scotland’s inbound tourism industry”.
Chief executive Joss Croft said: “We’re very pleased that the Scottish Government has recognised the devastating impact Omicron is having on the tourism industry and its supply chain, and is rolling out an additional £9 million financial package.
“In stark contrast, Westminster continues to leave the inbound tourism industry out in the cold, ignoring the crippling impact of international restrictions on inbound tour operators and the need for tailored financial support, which threatens the recovery of the UK’s fifth largest export industry.”
The £9 million package includes £6 million from the £375 million in business support that was previously announced by first minister Nicola Sturgeon and £3 million that has been repurposed from phase 1 of the Tourism Recovery Programme.