BUSINESS leaders have said that many more household names will “crash and burn” bringing the loss of thousands of jobs without ongoing support as early indications show the staycation market will not be enough to shore up stricken tourism and hospitality firms.

Already, famous brand names like Crieff Hydro Group, Macdonald Hotels and Apex Hotels have started consulting on redundancies even as furlough continues as they bid to balance the books and it is warned others will follow.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said the easing of some restrictions is welcome, but said: “Obviously a bit more of the industry opened up on Wednesday, but an awful lot of it stayed shut and an awful lot of it is still forced to stay shut.

"There’s a long way to go.

“It is not the boom by any means. It is very, very slow take-up.

“A small 15-20 bedroom hotel in a rural part of the west coast will be doing okay but bigger properties have just not got the volume of visitors that they need to get by a country mile.”

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He said the July average occupancy numbers for Glasgow and Edinburgh hotels was between six to eight per cent and “August is not much better with September touching 15% in the two big cities, so that is really serious”.

“The hotel needs to be at 60% occupancy just to break even.”

He said: “These businesses will need a significant level of financial support.

“When you are that far behind, even with the best will in the world, there is not enough to make a difference.

“So we have to create more demand from further afield, from England, the rest of the UK and with the air bridges.

“Then you roll into autumn and winter and that is also the period of time for events and Christmas parties and again there is not even an indicative date as yet on when those types of activities can recommence.

“We are at the end of the first mile of a very long marathon and I think we are going to hit the wall a good few times still and without that ongoing commitment from both Scottish and UK governments to help the industry through this there will be some major falls of long-established businesses and sadly we’ve seen far too many already and we need to avoid others crashing and burning.”

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Licensed trade veteran Donald MacLeod, whose company Hold Fast Entertainment owns The Garage in Glasgow and employs around 170 directly, said he believes there is scope for testing limited capacity gatherings within the hospitality industry.

He said: “In my own sector, two iconic clubs, The Garage and Cathouse, I would like to see some pilots going ahead where social distancing is removed but based on a capacity level.

“I’m going on the basis that when you saw the people going to the beaches there wasn’t massive pick-up or a surge in infection rates after the Black Lives Matter marches.

“So I think now we should be looking ahead maybe in September to try some pilots supported by government but not based on social distancing."

He added: “Social distancing is what’s killing business. We need to get the economy going and I would like to see a more confident approach now that we have got a handle on the infection rate.”

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Professor Graeme Roy, director of the Fraser of Allander Institute at Strathclyde University, said: “The biggest risk to the recovery would be a return of the virus in a significant way and having to reimpose a lockdown.

“There’s a really difficult balance now for policymakers about when they ease the restrictions and when they start to wind down the financial support and we’ve got to get that right.

“Only when you start to open businesses will many of the risks start to crystalise and so a business that is shut at the moment and all its staff are furloughed if it is only going to work at 60% or 70% capacity that is still way down on what it might have been in order to make it profitable.

“What further measures are going to be needed to try and stimulate the economy and try and support growth over the medium term and that is about how do you potentially support sectors that are particularly struggling at the moment like tourism or the airlines.

“But then also how do then support the economy more generally with stimulus until you get confidence back until activity will start coming back again.”

He also said: “Sadly policymakers can’t do everything, it is going to be a challenge. We are in a recession, we will come out of it quickly, but it is going to be a long road to recovery.”