Opening Scottish tourism businesses on July 15 – later than England’s date of July 4 – will cost the industry millions of pounds, Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw has said.
Previous figures for domestic tourism show the difference would cost the sector in Scotland around £11m and hundreds of thousands of visitors, according to analysis by the party.
Statistics from Visit Scotland show tourists from other parts of the UK made around 12 million visits north of the border in 2018, two weeks of which would be roughly 461,000 visitors.
The Tories say the sector needs more support before it reopens next month.
Hospitality firms like hotels and B&Bs will reopen to customers on July 15 in Scotland, though other places like caravan parks with no shared facilities will be able to open earlier.
Carlaw said: “Even by the most cautious of estimates Scotland’s tourist industry stands to lose millions of pounds and hundreds of thousands of customers.
“That’s because the SNP Government is refusing to open up the tourism and hospitality industry in line with the rest of the UK.
“The damage happens now financially, but also for the future too – these are people who would have come to Scotland but are now being made available to competitors.
“If Nicola Sturgeon is insisting on this lag, then her Government needs to provide financial compensation for that delay.
“And it also needs to generate a marketing campaign to make up for lost time.
“This valuable sector is already on the brink – it needs an SNP Government which will back it up, not make life even more difficult.”
A Scottish Government spokesman pointed to comments from Nicola Sturgeon that the best way to “ensure the recovery of the tourism and hospitality sectors” is by eliminating coronavirus.
He added the provisional date for reopening holiday accommodation with no shared spaces – such as holiday cottages, lodges and some caravans – is July 3, “a day ahead of England”.
He added: “We then intend to reopen hotels and B&Bs on July 15. While these dates are dependent on us continuing to make real progress in suppressing the virus, we hope that they give as much of the shortened season as possible.
“We continue to do all we can to support the tourism industry and have acted quickly to address the significant financial challenges faced by the sector through a tailored, comprehensive package of support including the £30m Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund and the £120m Pivotal Enterprises fund, on top of 100% rates relief for the year.”