Representatives from the Scottish Tourism Alliance, the Professional Association of Self-Caterers UK, Scottish AgriTourism, Visit Inverness Loch Ness, Visit Moray Speyside, Visit Arran, South of Scotland Destination Alliance and the Wales Tourism Alliance amongst others have come together behind the strong criticisms of the recently published rules.
The last-minute changes will have a severe and negative impact on the sector which has already been unfairly burdened by government measures, despite cooperating fully with government throughout the pandemic.
Ministers have decided that Scots can get together in so-called “festive bubbles” when restrictions are relaxed temporarily between 23 December and 27 December.
However, the decision was made without proper consultation with, or consideration for, Scotland’s already hamstrung £723million traditional self-catering sector, a decision the ASSC strongly condemns.
Of particular concern to self-caterers is the extremely limiting measure that will mean that someone from any given “bubble” intending to stay in self-catering accommodation will need to live in the local authority that the self-catering property is located in.
The ASSC has also slammed the government for failing to communicate adequately with the industry.
Worse still, the new limitations place an unfair burden on Scotland’s hard-working self-caterers who will have to enforce the rules themselves as it has been left to them to establish that visitors to their properties are members of the same bubble and that at least one household participating is from within the local council area.
The ASSC also condemned the fact that the poorly considered proposals deviate from the four nations approach and as such has caused confusion and worry for operators both in Scotland and across the United Kingdom.
Members of the ASSC were among the first to respond to calls to limit the spread of the virus by shutting down their properties, at great personal and professional cost, and have also led the way to economic recovery by reopening early with government-backed cleaning protocols in place.
The contribution the sector has made to the effort against COVID-19 has made it even more disappointing that the Scottish Government has made such a short-sighted, ill-considered, and ambiguous decision that will impact many Scottish small business owners in a negative way.
ASSC Chief Executive, Fiona Campbell, said:
“It is frankly devastating that the Scottish Government has acted in such a thoughtless manner towards our sector – they’ve created nothing short of a fiasco in our industry.
“Our sector has worked tirelessly, and endured so much strife, as part of the effort against COVID-19 so to be forgotten in this way feels like a stab in the back from a government that we thought we had a good relationship with.
“We can only hope that ministers listen to our concerns, and those of our valued colleagues across Scottish tourism, before all we have are a collection of empty properties, broken businesses, and shattered dreams.”
Marc Crothall, CEO of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said:
“I have raised the issue of communication with government officials on the weekly STERG call today and again stressed the importance of industry having clearer and more timely communications re guidance both to avoid confusion for business and our visitors looking to book.
When every penny counts and people are stretched the need to make all coms clear to all from the outset is essential so business and visitors know what they can and cannot do and effective planning and forecasting can be done.
“It is difficult enough right now for all business’ to manage through this pandemic, whilst the industry appreciates that there continues to be lots of moving parts and everyone is stretched it’s all the more reason for the need for utmost clarity in all communications.
“This will avoid what has in the past caused much uncertainty, lots of upset, avoidable administration, and significant loss of business for some.”