Some of the top names in Scottish hospitality have launched a new "Save Our Jobs" campaign calling for urgent support from Westminster and Holyrood to safeguard up to 100,000 jobs before the nationwide furlough scheme comes to an end in just over a week.

Michelin star chef Tom Kitchin, Nic Wood of pub and bar collection Signature Group, James Thomson of Prestonfield and The Witchery, Edinburgh’s Carina Contini and the Scotland-wide Crerar Hotels group are leading the campaign to appeal for support from government "before it’s too late".

Hospitality workers have shared their "Save Our Jobs" selfies on social media using the hashtags #SaveOurJobs and #ScottishHospitality to highlight the faces behind the jobs under threat.

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Support has been drawn from across Scotland with hoteliers, restaurateurs, publicans and café owners joining forces in a drive to raise awareness of the scale of the crisis facing the industry. Many business owners are worried that they are running out of time to save vital jobs, many of which are held by people aged between 16 and 24 years old.

People aged between 16 to 24 years old currently make up 50% of the hospitality workforce in Scotland, however, since February, youth unemployment has risen from 6.1% to 14.5% in Scotland.

The campaign is also keen to raise awareness of that scale of jobs at risk with restrictions not just affecting hospitality venues but the whole supply chain that depends on the industry, such as Scottish food and drink producers, logistical services and maintenance support.

Industry leaders believe that more clarity is needed from the Scottish Government on who and when businesses will benefit from the funding made available, and that further financial compensation is required to protect jobs across Scotland.

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The hospitality industry is also calling to government to find practical, evidence based solutions to remain open whilst keeping their staff and customers safe.

Michelin star restaurateur and owner of Edinburgh’s The Kitchin, Tom Kitchin said: “We’re in really challenging times as an industry and now is the time to act. The impact this situation is having not just on Scottish hospitality but also on our supply chain is enormous.

"I was speaking to a supplier yesterday and he was in tears. Many producers and even members of our team are in great stress and I have serious concerns for their health and well-being if this carries on. Everyone linked to our industry is affected by the restrictions and curfews and hospitality and tourism being such important corner stones of the economy cannot be wiped out.

“Our industry is in a real need of help, especially having only just partly recovered from the first lockdown. We have worked so hard to keep our guests and diners safe in hospitality settings, taking all safety precautions needed to remain safe while enjoying good food and drink. Eliminating the risks of the virus is obviously our greatest concern, but there need to be a balance. For the hospitality future of Scotland.”

HeraldScotland: Some of the selfiesSome of the selfies

Carina Contini is owner of Contini George Street, Cannonball Restaurant & Bar, and The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant at the Scottish National Gallery. She said: “This virus has created a health and social imbalance. Our elderly have suffered hugely in both loss of their community and their well-being. The youth have suffered socially with their learning and friendships being hit the hardest.

“But the business imbalance affecting hospitality today which is being hit so much harder than many other professions will cause an even greater long term harm."

James Thomson, owner of Edinburgh’s Prestonfield House and The Witchery said: “Earlier this year I made the incredibly difficult decision to close The Tower in Edinburgh which I had had the pleasure to operate for 22 years. Due to the impact of Covid-19, we had to permanently close our doors which absolutely broke my heart. This resulted in a number of unavoidable redundancies which was a huge blow to all of us and the many suppliers and their staff whom we supported. I’m now very concerned that without adequate support, many hospitality venues will face the same future."

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