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The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers has hit out at the impact of Scottish Government messaging on the industry.

In a snap survey of ASSC members, three quarters of respondents said Scottish Government messaging is having a negative impact on bookings.

Yesterday, First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said:

“I hope staycations in the summer may be possible, but I’m not going to stand here today and say that’s definitely going to be the case by x date and everyone books holidays and for whatever reason it doesn’t turn out like that and then rightly they’ll be blaming me for booking a holiday they can’t have.”

Following the First Minister’s statement the ASSC sent out a survey to its members. Three hundred businesses responded in the first hour alone, with a third coming from the Highland region.

75% said Government messaging was having a negative impact on bookings. 96% have doubts about a tourist season at easter, and 90% have doubts about a summer season. 75% also reported feeling ‘negative’ or ‘somewhat negative’ about business over the next twelve months.

Following media reports in England of holiday bookings coming “thick and fast”, Scotland’s Self-Caterers were asked if that statement reflected their own experience. 40% of respondents said they have received no bookings at all and another 50% reported bookings being down in comparison to ‘normal’ years.

The ASSC’s Chief Executive, Fiona Campbell, says the industry is on its knees and the Government is not helping.

“Words matter and especially when they come from the First Minister. Our industry was already facing another deeply challenging year but a Government message that casts serious doubt on the ability of people to have a holiday in Scotland in 2021 is killing the tourism sector.”

The results of the ASSC’s survey have not come as a surprise to the Destination Management Organisation for Skye and neighbouring areas, SkyeConnect. The organisation’s Project Manager, Alistair Danter, also runs a self-catering business.

“Bookings across the sector are extremely low or non-existent. In my own case, I have had a few tentative enquiries, but no bookings. Business confidence in our sector is at an all-time low and we need support from Government to survive. That support is not just financial. We would like to hear positive messages that demonstrate there is a clear strategy. For example, has inbound international travel been ruled out for this year? Will people in the UK be able to travel between areas in different levels of lockdown? Will multiple households be able to holiday together? We appreciate the timescale is uncertain, but businesses need to be able to prepare and adapt operations for whatever lies ahead.”

With thank to Skye Connect for this article

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