From castles to cathedrals, they are features of Scotland’s past and landscape that help draw millions of visitors to the country each year, keen to explore its rich tapestry of architecture and history.

But in a post-pandemic crisis, visitor attractions are struggling to recruit staff and it has emerged that some traditional hotspot destinations are still not open for summer.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said staffing issues are causing problems for a number of its properties, with 15 sites yet to open as a result of issues linked to the pandemic.

Those yet to open post-pandemic include Dunkeld Cathedral, Kilmartin Crosses in Argyll, Balvenie Castle in Moray, Tolquhon Castle in Aberdeenshire, and Kisimul Castle on Barra.

HES said it was hoped the 15 properties still closed due to Covid would open on a rolling basis over the summer.

The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA) has launched a recruitment drive after research, last month, found 55 per cent of 850 attractions were experiencing challenges in recruitment.

A spokewoman for HES said staff normally employed in seasonal roles had found work in other fields following lockdown.

She said: “While 80% of our attractions are now open to visitors, we still face challenges in reopening our seasonal sites, with one of the biggest factors being the availability of staff, with many former seasonal colleagues now employed, post pandemic, in other fields.

“This is having a detrimental effect in terms of impacting on our wider sector, highlighted recently by the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions who have launched a recruitment campaign to attract people back into the sector.”

Other factors have the delayed re-opening of some properties following lockdown, such as the need for electrical checks, drain flushing and condition inspections.

An additional, 50 historic sites cared for by HES remain closed off to the public while emergency surveys are carried out to assess the state and safety of the structures,.

Climate change is aiding the deterioration of some historic sites, including Lochleven, Aberdour, Tantallon and St Andrews castles, Linlithgow Palace and Melrose Abbey.

National Trust for Scotland (NTS) said three of its properties remained closed.

House of the Binns in Linlithgow is closed for refurbishment – although the grounds remain open – while Arduaine Garden near Oban is closed due to storm damage clear-up.

Souter Johnnie’s Cottage in Ayrshire is shut due to staffing issues.

NTS said it supported the ASVA recruitment campaign and claimed it recently had “great results” in recruiting new staff. ASVA said the visitor attraction sector offered around 17,000 jobs, with a common misconception held that working in tourism “was a job, not a career”.

It comes as the Isle of Skye is also suffering a hospitality staffing crisis as the holiday season gets under way.

Simon Cousins, a spokesman for Skye Connect, which works to support the development of a robust tourism economy, said firms were being forced to reduce their hours due to staffing levels.

The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) has said there are 230,000 tourism jobs north of the Border which are either part-time, full-time or in the direct supply chain.

As of May 23, the vacancy rate was 20 per cent – or the equivalent of 45,000 jobs.

According to the STA, summer bookings are perceived by businesses to have been impacted by a range of factors, including the surging cost of living in the UK, the draw of holidays abroad and people taking late decisions on holidays. Scotland’s inability to compete internationally on price and value for money was also cited as a factor.

The survey also laid bare the cost of doing business for firms in the Scottish tourism sector.

Rising energy bills, increasing supplier costs, as well as issues around recruitment and staffing, were identified as the top three challenges facing the industry.

The survey also found that 60% of hotels, 43% of visitor attractions, and 45% of bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes and takeaways said they are unable to trade effectively with the number of staff they currently have.