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Tourism industry feeling the pinch due to lack of EU workers

Scots businesses are having to reduce hours or close down as a result of rising costs and Brexit.

Tourism employs more than 200,000 people in Scotland. STV

Tourism leaders say an increasing number of businesses are having to reduce hours or close down as a result of pressures facing the industry.

Rising costs and a decline in available workers as a result of Brexit are forcing hotels and attractions to reduce what they can offer.

Bosses want greater recognition of the contribution tourism brings to the wider economy.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “There are businesses that are completely having to review their trading hours and either close early or shut down, and for a lot of others they are having to revisit what they can actually offer the customer.

“Ultimately you want to give the customer the best possible service so that is a real concern.”

Tourism is worth more than £11bn to Scotland’s economy and employs more than 200,000 people.

It accounts for one in every 12 jobs here.

Richard Pate has run the Kilmartin Hotel in Argyll for nine years.

He blames Brexit for adding to existing challenges over recruitment, having seen a sharp drop in applications from EU citizens.

“Whether I’m looking for staff or not they’re always coming. The last eight years every other week in the summer you’re getting an email, whether it be Polish, Latvian, Estonian or wherever they’re coming from. But this year nothing, none at all, really.

“It’s getting tougher. There are hotels closing down all over the place.”

Tourism has the potential to revitalise parts of the country other industries cannot reach.

However, at a time of political uncertainty, high costs including VAT and business rates are squeezing budgets.

The resort of Portavadie has successfully reclaimed thousands of pounds in overpaid rates.

“We recently secured in the region of £18,000 for overpaid rates. These are overpayments sitting in public sector accounts,” says managing director Ian Jurgensen.

“I would encourage anyone to go and speak to your accountant and perhaps identify these companies that can act on your behalf.

“We did pay a commission on that but there are monies sat that businesses could absolutely well do with to protect their ability to be profitable and to reinvest because there is a real danger that the cost of doing business is squeezed so far that it doesn’t become attractive any more.

“Places like this won’t exist if they are unable to make profit to reinvest in their business, then there will be no more businesses.”

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