‘More help needed’ for businesses hit by cancelations

Firms risk 'falling through the funding cracks' with events forced online.

‘More help needed’ for businesses hit by cancelations SNS Group

More help is needed for businesses that rely on Hogmanay celebrations to bring in much of their cash, Labour has said.

With events forced online this year as a result of coronavirus, the party insisted such firms must not be at risk of “falling through the funding cracks”.

Labour’s culture and tourism spokeswoman Claire Baker called for action as Scotland prepared to see in the start of 2021 in the midst of a global pandemic.

New Year’s Eve is usually one of the busiest times of the year for Scotland’s capital, as revellers from across the world flock to Edinburgh to join in the celebrations.

But this year, instead of its traditional torchlit procession and street party, the city is hosting a number of online events to mark the coming of the new year.

And with all of mainland Scotland currently under the toughest Level 4 restrictions, pubs and restaurants are closed for all but takeaway business.

Baker said: “Pubs, shops, restaurants and bars have all been impacted by the pandemic. However, not all tourism businesses can simply go online and not everyone can access the internet.

“Many other smaller businesses depend on physical footfall and passing traffic to keep their businesses afloat, such as stalls, rides and visitor attractions.

“They depend on in-person interaction and are the backbone of our high streets and communities. We cannot risk them falling through the funding cracks.”

The Labour MSP added: “Funding has been made available for many tourism businesses, along with the £14m fund for hotels.

“However, this fund has been overwhelmed with applications and shows that there has been a miscalculation over the level of support needed across Scotland.”

And she insisted: “The Sottish Government must do more to target relief at smaller, tourist-dependent businesses and provide assurances that support will be made available to them.”

Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “It’s been a particularly bruising year for our tourism and hospitality sectors. The Covid-19 crisis has shattered previously successful businesses and we are committed to doing everything possible to get them back on their feet.

“We have recently announced a further £104.3m support package for tourism and hospitality businesses in Scotland.

“We are working closely with industry partners on the Events Industry Advisory Group to support the future of the events sector and to aid the recovery from Covid-19.

“The restrictions, as necessary as they are, continue to have a profound effect and it is fair to say that tourism and hospitality businesses are feeling it more than most.

“Although this year we can’t physically come together, through online events, such as Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, we can show everyone that Scotland is still, and will continue to be, the world-renowned home of Hogmanay.

“Clearly, in light of the enhanced restrictions to control the spread of the virus, we will be undertaking further work on what additional support is needed by businesses, including for the longer term.

“There is a need to move quickly to ensure that we respond to the threat of the virus and that the sector is adequately supported and ready to go again, when the time is right.”

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