Scotland’s tourism sector is a ‘million miles’ from returning to normal without an effective tracking and tracing system for coronavirus, according to Labour’s shadow chancellor.

Anneliese Dodds MP said that the sector could face crippling consequences from the pandemic if urgent measures are not put in to protect it, including realistic advice and guidelines about reopening as well as organising an effective contact tracing system.

It comes after Nicola Sturgeon yesterday announced Scotland’s roadmap out of lockdown and said some companies would be able to start opening with social distancing and hygiene measures in place.

Dodds said while it would help the economy, the tourism sector would struggle to benefit.

Speaking exclusively to the Herald, she warned: “What we must never lose sight of is the fact that until we have a really strong test, track and isolate scheme the reopening of tourist facilities, hotels, restaurants and infrastructure will be really far away.

“It’s not about when it opens, it is also about when it can open to anything approaching full capacity. “Plans suggested around socially distanced facilities… they are very creative and I can understand they are being worked on but margins are pretty low in these industries so if you’re operating under-capacity then that’s a problem. In England the testing has been very slow, Scottish Labour has been very concerned about the roll out of testing [in Scotland] as well.

“Until that is done, any normal operation of [tourist] facilities is a millon miles away unfortunately.”

Dodds has also called for chancellor Rishi Sunak to explain more about the changes to the furlough scheme from August, including employers’ contributions.

Mr Sunak announced earlier this month that the job retention scheme, which sees workers put on furlough being paid 80% of their salary, would be extended until the end of October.

However from August 1 companies will be required to pay a percentage of wages, yet to be announced.

Ms Dodds stressed that without knowing how much they will have to contribute many firms cannot prepare and many would be unable to afford to supplement their employees wages while they were not working anyway.

The Labour front bencher, who is originally from Aberdeen but now represents the Oxford East constituency at Westminster, said: “ The Chancellor has suggested there might be an employer contribution introduced at the beginning of August, but he’s not given any indication that he’s looking at a sectoral approach.

“Different sectors are going to be affected differentially. If there was a 40% contribution required, for example, lots of employers simply will not be able to afford to pay that…it would lead to an additional surge in unemployment.”

The MP, who was elected for the first time in 2017, said governments in Scotland and Westminster must not “underestimate the costs of long-term unemployment” and said “radical change” was needed to mitigate at least some of the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

She explained: “First of all we are trying to work as much as we can constructively across the UK, we want all these schemes to work so we’re not poking the finger and suggest any of this has been easy, it hasn’t been.

“However, there are areas I’ve been concerned [about] and where we need to see radical improvements. There’s an underestimation of the long-term cost of unemployment.

“We’ve had low levels of unemployment across the UK, in Scotland the unemployment was ticking up before this crisis but overall we have had relatively low levels. There doesn’t seem to be the recognition of the need to prevent unemployment.

“We don’t have the architecture to help people who become unemployed. Universal credit is not fit for purpose, and we don’t have schemes such as the Future Jobs Fund which there was after the last financial crisis...we don’t have anything analogous to that now.”

Ms Dodds also stressed the importance of ensuring public confidence prior to businesses fully reopening, explaining: “People are complying strongly with guidelines but if we don’t have robust health and safety, and we are not transparent and open, people will be nervous not just about going back to work but going in to businesses if they don’t think they’ll be safe when they do so.”