Economy secretary ‘hopes’ for tourism summer season

Fiona Hyslop said support would be essential for tourism, with lockdown measures due to ease from Thursday.

Scotland’s economy secretary has expressed her hopes there can still be a summer season for the country’s tourism industry.

Fiona Hyslop said support would be essential for tourism and hospitality, with lockdown measures in Scotland due to ease from Thursday.

The Scottish Government’s roadmap out of lockdown will see some other businesses return to normal but there are still restrictions on travelling and leisure for the time being.

Ms Hyslop, appearing on BBC One Scotland’s Politics Scotland programme, was asked about people being concerned about whether they can start to take bookings with June just a week away.

She said: “I hope they would have a season. We won’t know until we actually see the pattern, particularly as we phase through this easing of the lockdown what the the pattern of this virus will be.

‘We need to ensure that there is a relaxation to allow people to move so that they can themselves within Scotland have those staycations. We’re not in that situation just now.’

Fiona Hyslop, economy secretary

“But we do want to support them, we want to keep them in production capacity. As I speak, there are tens of millions of pounds being issued by the unique and special sort of government scheme – the Resilience Fund and also the Hardship Fund for the hospitality industry.

“It is essential that they have support continued on the job retention scheme, but also in terms of saving a season, we must look at additional packages support.

“We need to ensure that there is a relaxation to allow people to move so that they can themselves within Scotland have those staycations. We’re not in that situation just now.

“I think there is a huge support from the tourism sector from Scots who when we are able to book holidays they can and they do that in Scotland.

“We’d be very keen for the UK Government to extend their funding support for that sector.”

Ms Hyslop also declined to comment on suggestions the two-metre rule could be changed for bars and restaurants, with a one-metre rule being less problematic.

While saying she was “not a public health expert”, the MSP said she would want to engage with the public health advisers and experts to help face challenges in the sector.

Stage one of the Government’s four-phase plan to lift lockdown is scheduled to begin on May 28, with Scots then allowed to meet people from outside their own household, sunbathe and take part in some non-contact sports like golf.

Ms Hyslop reiterated that any “finishing dates” to the phasing out of lockdown “will be driven by the experience of the virus, and experience in terms of what happens when we start losing it”.

She added: “If we can deliver the phase one safely and well without increasing the infection rates in the community, it will make it easier to help bring forward those dates.

“We know from our discussions with businesses that transport and education will be important to make sure the workforce can get to work safely, we know that transport will be restricted.

“And we also know that many women with childcare responsibilities for example need to ensure that they have childcare and education provided.

“But we have to do this step-by-step, we have taken a very considered view. Every relaxation, or easing of the lockdown has an impact potentially on that.

“For example, the movement on construction is really important. That’s going to be really important as part of our economic recovery. And that step-by-step safe approach is essential.”

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