The tourism industry is facing an unprecedented challenge due to coronavirus. The self-catering industry acted responsibly by closing our businesses in our response to the public emergency but as policymakers look towards easing lockdown restrictions, it is only right that we start to prepare for recovery and plan how that may take shape.
ASSC Preparatory Work
The ASSC believes that self-catering units are the most appropriate forms of accommodation that could reopen first when assessing social distancing risks (source: Quality in Tourism Sector Risk Matrix). Nonetheless, it is imperative that we take a health first approach and work in close partnership with government and other stakeholders to ensure both consumer and community confidence.
The ASSC has been working to provide an evidence base for the safe and gradual re-opening of self-catering units and we have held discussions with partner organisations such as Quality in Tourism and the Professional Association of Self-Caterers. We have also conducted a survey of our membership to gauge their attitudes to restarting and recovery. 78% of respondents stated they would prefer to open when travel restrictions are officially lifted by Scottish Government and 58% of respondents think that self-catering should be in the first tier of businesses that can open.
The ASSC are currently preparing a paper which details our thinking on how the self-catering industry could reopen and we look forward to sharing that work with you when it is complete. We would like to outline some of our initial topline thinking:
In terms of the overall approach:
Any decision to reopen must be taken in lockstep with the Scottish Government on the basis of expert medical advice as part of a health first approach.
Those businesses seeking to reopen must fulfil and adhere to a strict set of criteria (which should be endorsed by government and promoted by trade associations, DMOs and VisitScotland) and an evidence-based risk assessment. This could be delivered by Quality in Tourism as part of their ‘Safe, Clean and Legal’ accreditation scheme.
Underpinning all of this would be a mandatory and robust cleaning protocol. The ASSC has always believed that the health and safety of visitors and guests in self-catering accommodation is paramount but this takes on even greater significant in the current context. Our document, ‘Housekeeping for self-catering properties following Coronavirus Pandemic’ provides an overview of appropriate cleaning procedures.
Finally, due to the strong and necessary anti-travel advice, as well as the associated media and political comment in recent weeks, it is crucially important that we redefine this narrative going forward when it is judged appropriate for lockdown restrictions to be eased. In our membership survey, 96% of respondents feel that reopening requires clear messaging from the Scottish Government and local authorities, underlining that it will be a considerable challenge to inform communities that visitors are welcome once again.