HOLIDAYMAKERS who develop Covid-19 symptoms should self-isolate where they are, Nicola Sturgeon has warned – amid a plea for Scots to stay close to home for a sustainable return to tourism as businesses re-open to customers.

Yesterday, Scotland's hotels, pubs, restaurants and attractions were able to re-open indoors areas for the first time since lockdown – amid concerns many traders would not be able to restart their businesses during the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a bid to encourage Scots to help revive the devastated tourism industry, Visit Scotland has launched a television and radio campaign, calling on the public to make the most of what's on offer on their doorstep.

Visit Scotland is urging Scots to travel close to home, rather than risk spreading the virus to remote parts of the country – highlighting the need for a sustainable return to business for the tourism industry.

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With some communities in isolated parts of Scotland fearful over a potential mass influx of visitors while the Covid-19 virus is still very much a threat to public health, tourism bosses are hoping to strike a balance between visitors supporting local businesses and being sensible with their actions.

There have also been worries that tourists from England, where the prevalence of the virus is higher than in Scotland, could potentially spread the disease north of the border. The First Minister has stressed she currently has "no plans" to put restrictions in place for people entering Scotland from England but said she cannot rule out any measures to ensure public health is safeguarded.

Ms Sturgeon has also warned people who are visiting isolated parts of Scotland that if they fall unwell with the signs of Covid-19, they should stay where they are.

She said: "If you’re on holiday somewhere and you experience symptoms of the virus, don’t wait until you come home to contact the health service locally – contact NHS24, book a test and self-isolate where you are at that point.

"That is important everywhere but again, think about this if you are in a small, remote, rural island community. Remember that test and protect is in every part of the country and use it where you happen to be if you have these symptoms."

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VisitScotland’s director of marketing, Vicki Miller, said: “We’re delighted to finally be in the position to be able to launch a marketing campaign to celebrate the reopening of tourism.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the industry, and we’d like to encourage people across Scotland to get out there and support businesses in any way we can."

She added: “This film celebrates the huge variety of activities we have right across the country, showing you don’t have to travel too far to have a fantastic experience.

"Alongside this though, it’s important we respect that tourism might not look the same as before, but the warm Scottish welcome remains. "We ask that people follow the recommended guidelines, book in advance and respect the local communities so there’s something to enjoy for everyone.”

The First Minister has also warned people to respect the communities they visit – with the five-mile restriction to travel for leisure purposes having been lifted across Scotland.

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Speaking at her daily media briefing, Ms Sturgeon said: "Not everybody is able financially or otherwise to take a holiday.

"If you’re able to take a few days away, this year think about doing it in Scotland, think about supporting our own tourism industry and if you are going to a more remote part of our country, whether that’s the Highlands and Islands or any part of our country that’s not as well served with health services and other infrastructure, respect that.

"While it’s important for everybody to follow the rules, be particularly vigilant when you’re in a smaller or more remote community."

But tourism chiefs have warned that the re-opening of businesses will not be a silver bullet to bounce back from the economic hardship many traders face.

Willie MacLeod, the Scottish director of UK Hospitality, has stressed that getting through the winter months without a boost from international visitors or business travel is "going to be appallingly difficult for people".

He added: "I think there are a number of businesses that have decided not to open, perhaps because they are waiting for a sufficient level of business to justify re-opening.

"I think sadly we're going to see some businesses that just don't re-open at all."

Ms Sturgeon has warned that she "will not hesitate" to close businesses if there is a surge in Covid-19 cases as people come more in contact with each other and social distancing rules are not followed.

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She added: "This is not a big bad government saying to people don't do things or do things for the sake of it.

"This is in all of our interests. "Every time every one of us deliberately or inadvertently breaches one of these rules, we provide this horrible deadly virus with a bridge to jump across."

Conservatives have called for the Scottish Government to offer further business support – including help with long-term reductions in business rates, including reducing the large business supplement.

Jackson Carlaw, Scottish Tory leader, said: “Unfortunately the damage done to our economy by the Covid crisis is severe and businesses still have to adapt to the new, costly, regulations.

“Without significant and concrete action from the SNP government, many businesses might not survive, despite the relaxation in lockdown.

“Without this kind of long-term support from the SNP government more jobs will be lost.”