A SCOTTISH hotelier has flagged fears in the sector over a fall in visitors from mainland Europe during the crucial summer period – blaming Brexit uncertainty.

Ian Fleming, owner of the Lake of Menteith Hotel in Perthshire, declared this negative impact was more than offsetting a rise in UK “staycations” fuelled by sterling weakness.

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He said: “The weak pound and the Brexit factor seem to be driving a rise in UK staycations, which is terrific news for us. However, this is more than offset by the decline in overseas travellers who are choosing to holiday elsewhere rather than come to the UK.”

Mainland Europe is the UK tourism sector’s largest overseas market. Tourism body VisitBritain earlier this year highlighted a fall in flight bookings to the UK from other European countries, especially for arrival after the previously planned Brexit date of March 29.

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Mr Fleming said: “Anecdotally, many hoteliers are voicing concerns about a fall in summer bookings during what is, for rural-based venues especially, always our busiest time of the year.”

He said the hotel industry was “feeling a huge impact from the ongoing uncertainties of Brexit”.

The number of European visitors to Scotland, from outside the UK, increased by 19 per cent in 2018, according to statistics released by the IPS (International Passenger Survey) in May.

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Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said then: “Our tourism industry is of vital importance to the Scottish economy. However, with the ongoing uncertainty of EU exit and the end of freedom of movement, coupled with rising costs for both businesses and individuals, the Scottish Government recognises we cannot take tourism success for granted.

“That is why we will continue to work to support the sustainable growth of the industry as it creates jobs, [and] boosts the local and national economy.”