TENS of thousands of jobs will be lost in Scotland's tourism sector unless the UK Government extends its furlough scheme, the SNP Tourism Secretary has warned.

Fergus Ewing said he feared "many more" redundancies if the Jobs Retention Scheme is not expanded beyond October. 

He said tourism is more important to Scotland's economy than it is for the UK as a whole.

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Mr Ewing made his comments while giving evidence to Holyrood's Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee. 

Scotland's tourism and hospitality businesses have been told to prepare to reopen fully on July 15. 

However there are ongoing concerns over the financial impact of the two-metre distancing rule.

Mr Ewing told MSPs: "The furlough due to expire in October will expire just at the very point when many businesses will have little or no business at all. 

"We want to try to encourage and enable and use the Government's influence to assist, but I do think that in itself is unlikely to be enough. 

"That's why the First Minister has suggested to the UK that a furlough extension is necessary. 

"If it isn't granted, I fear for the increased redundancies that will occur, particular among the larger employers. 

"Tens of thousands of extra people will lose their jobs in Scotland

"Instead of investing for future success with the 2021 season, we see a lot of people go on to the redundancy list, lose hope and faith and perhaps not return to their former employment. 

"It may not be available for them to return to either next year. 

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"And in a sense if that were to happen, all the money invested in the furlough up to October may arguably have been wasted. It may have been in vain."

He said the state has a "moral duty" to help businesses if it tells them to shut their doors.

He added: "That's the whole rationale for the tourism sector in particular continuing to receive support beyond October, welcome though that support up to October has been."

Mr Ewing later added: "I fear that unless the furlough scheme is extended, then we will see many more redundancies issued – as I say, tens of thousands. 

"And I don't make that as a political point, but one I think that we can all see."