A £6 million fund is being made available to support inbound tourism and those businesses who promote and sell packages to international markets.
The Scotland Inbound Tour Operators – COVID 19 Business Support and Continuity Fund is open to inbound tour operator and Destination Management Companies that manage travel packages.
The funding is part of a wider package of support for tourism and hospitality businesses from the Scottish Government totalling £104.3 million pounds.
Businesses that rely on international visitors for income have been hit particularly hard by the impact of Covid-19, since the crisis began last year.
The one-off fund will help provide financial stability over the next four to six months and to help firms prepare for late 2021 business.
The fund will be managed by VisitScotland, with input from the Scottish Tourism Alliance, the Scottish Destination Management Association, the Scottish Incoming Golf Tourism Operators Association and UK Inbound, however applications are welcome from non-members of these groups.
It is one of nine funding streams administered by Scotland’s national tourism organisation on behalf of the Scottish Government.
VisitScotland have redeployed more than 100 staff from other roles to help process applications as quickly as possible.
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:
“The Covid-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on the tourism and events industries and they will need financial support for some time to come to help them recover.
“Ensuring as many businesses as possible survive and can recover is our main priority at present.
“International visitors are a hugely important part of our visitor economy and therefore it is critical the inbound industry is able to meet the demand when overseas travel can resume.
“As much of our available resources as possible are being dedicated to delivering the funding to businesses as quickly as possible.”
Gary Wilkinson, SIGTOA representative, said:
“Scotland’s golf tourism product is the envy of the world and tour operators are Scottish golf’s marketing and sales force, providing vital support to our rural economy.
“Whilst 2020 was a year without customers, the true resilience of the international golf travel market for Scotland is evidenced in a recent internal survey of SIGTOA members, which showed only 7% of 2020 bookings cancelled with the remainder moving their reservations into 2021.
“Today’s announcement of the new Scotland Inbound Tour Operators Business Support and Continuity Fund is the lifeline that the industry needs to make up for a year without income and will allow us all to prepare to service the huge pent up demand that now exists from international golfers.
“We still face massive challenges with some groups moving into 2022 but at least now we have support that will allow us to manage that in the short term.”
Les Maitland, Chair of the SDMA, said:
“The Scottish Destination Management Association welcomes the financial assistance from the Scottish Government.
Our members play a vital role in delivering the £2bn of annual spend which comes from international visitors.
“Despite our members’ revenues being typically down more than 90%, financial support to date has either been very limited or not available whatsoever.
“This funding package will help support the survival of businesses through to the Spring when we hope the recovery will begin.
“To support that recovery we look forward to working with the Scottish Government to develop a clear plan for restarting the international visitor economy in 2021 and for collaborative funding to market Scotland to the world.”