A series of surveys undertaken by leading Scottish tourism organisations has revealed the extent to which many are struggling as they head towards another winter following a second summer of restricted trading.

The four organisations - the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC), Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA), Wild Scotland, and Sail Scotland - say many in their sectors are under serious threat of closing for good. They are calling for better communication, an easing of household restrictions, changes to physical distancing measures and additional financial support to help those "falling through the cracks in the Scottish Government's response to Covid-19".

“While those of us in self-catering, alongside our colleagues in the other parts of Scotland’s tourism offering, have done everything we can to help the national effort against this virus, we simply have not had the support and clarity that we need." ASSC chief executive Fiona Campbell said.

“On behalf of my sector, and the others who have produced this deeply concerning data, I want to send a very clear message to those in power: help us before it’s too late."

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ASSC found that 32 per cent of self-caterers were operating at reduced capacity, 16% simply breaking even, and a further 16% being open but financially unviable. Larger self-catering premises have been particularly badly impacted due to household meeting restrictions.

The ASVA’s survey, undertaken in partnership with the Moffat Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University, was completed by 178 organisations representing over 350 visitor attractions.

It showed 71% of the sector has re-opened, however 90% percent of these attractions are not recovering from the impact of the pandemic. Less than one in four is operating at an economically sustainable level and 46% of attractions fear their business will be unviable if physical distancing and international travel restrictions persist beyond the end of this month.

“Whilst there has been much talk of a recovery and staycation boom this year, as it stands under 2% of attractions are operating with turnover figures comparable to 2019," ASVA chief executive Gordon Morrison said.

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"For as long as we see the continuation of two metre physical distancing and international travel restrictions, it will be impossible for the majority of attractions to recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic. Business confidence remains very low, with fewer than one in five attractions optimistic about their financial performance for the next 12 months.

“Without governmental intervention to help their survival and recovery, we are in real danger of some of our country’s most iconic attractions closing for good. These are not only the jewels of our £12billion tourism industry, they are integral to our culture, heritage and communities." 

Meanwhile, Wild Scotland reported that out of those surveyed across the wildlife, adventure and activity sector that can reopen, more than a third saw their futures as unviable with 55% operating at under 50% capacity. Group size restrictions and physical distancing remain the most significant challenges severely impacting over 50% of businesses surveyed.

It was also reported that if international restrictions remain, almost a third of those surveyed will see their turnover reduce by more than half.

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Sail Scotland reported 80% of charter and small cruise ship operators surveyed said they were trading at unsustainable levels under current guidelines. Group size restrictions along with physical distancing reduce the viability of the sector. Some 87% of respondents confirmed that lack of clarity and direction by the Scottish Government around guidelines for the sector were seen to be having a severe and crippling impact.

“Month after month after month we have been advising the Scottish Government boat operators in the charter and small ships cruise sector were facing catastrophic market failure," Sail Scotland chief executive Alan Rankin said. "The survey results have unfortunately confirmed such stark predictions.

“Operators have a short six-month season with 90% saying they will have four or less months trading this year and 80% confirming they are trading at unviable levels. Boat operators missed out on previous grants as they did not qualify under schemes requiring business rated premises."

Victoria Brooks, manager at Wild Scotland, added: "This is a sector with significant potential to drive tourism recovery with the increasing popularity for nature and the great outdoors. However, to fulfil this demand we need the Scottish Government to step up and support these important sectors to ensure survival"