A MAJORITY of small tourism businesses in Scotland are not using support from private or public sector experts to help them develop although two thirds want to grow, a study by the Federation of Small Businesses has found.
The study found only 45 per cent of small tourism firms used public sector support in the past 12 months. Some 40 per cent accessed support from business association like the FSB and Chambers of Commerce.
The federation said the results indicated the public sector had to be more focused in the support it provides for what is reckoned to be a key sector.
"There's no doubt that there's some good public sector support on offer for Scottish tourism businesses, but our report shows that businesses are confused about who does what," said Andy Willox, the FSB's Scottish policy convenor.
"While of course it's up to businesses to look for the help they need to get the edge, publicly funded bodies need to work more closely together and deliver a consistent joined-up message to busy, hard-pressed local tourism businesses."
The FSB said a one-stop shop for tourism businesses should be hosted on the Scottish Government's 'Business Portal' to rationalise the various websites competing for firms' attention. It said the Business Gateway service should be resourced with more tourism advisers.
The study noted:"The tourism sector as a whole continues to appear relatively isolated and unengaged with similarly low levels of participation in private sector business support."
With 63 per cent of small businesses apparently unaware of the national tourism strategy the results of the study will make challenging reading for those who hope the sector will achieve sustained growth.
The cost of energy was identified as an obstacle by 55 per cent of respondents to the study. Obtaining finance and lack of fast and reliable broadband access were both cited by 21per cent of respondents.
The FSB said the study contacted over 500 businesses, 30 Scottish councils and a range of other public bodies over the last 12 months.
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