On World Tourism Day (Monday 27th September), Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has expressed his concerns over the continuous disruption faced by the tourism sector over the past 18 months, and warned that Scotland's reputation as a holiday destination would suffer unless the Scottish Government steps up.
Mr Cole-Hamilton highlighted a lack of support for the travel industry, a lack of provision of facilities in popular tourist areas and the impact of the government's Covid ID cards as three factors which he warned had hit the industry hard.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
“Scotland is a beautiful, creative and diverse country but the tourism sector has faced enormous challenges in the past two years.
“Even before the pandemic, Brexit had imposed huge pressure on the industry. Sadly, the Scottish Government has compounded that pain through their consistent mishandling.
“The travel and aviation industry has already lost two summer seasons and now due to the Scottish Government's late u-turn on testing for travellers, they will struggle to recoup trade during the October break. Edinburgh Airport directly employs around 750 staff and provides work opportunities for thousands more. Not giving any solutions to the aviation industry harms the Scottish economy and Scottish families.
“This year we have seen an enormous increase in staycations, and yet the government failed to adequately prepare for it, especially in more remote areas. The quality of tourism, as well as communities, depends on these essential services. Lack of public toilets, bins and even EV charging points, affect not only the experience of tourists and locals alike, but also the image of Scotland in the UK and the world.
“Finally, the SNP’s new Covid ID cards will add another burden to Scotland's world class cultural sector. Sports teams and night-time venues which make a major contribution to Scottish tourism are facing new costs which industry leaders have warned they may struggle to afford. With only a few days to its launch, business owners still don’t know what is expected of them and their businesses or how they'll get hold of new equipment and extra staff.
“This World Tourism Day, the Scottish Government need to step up and ensure that our tourism industry can flourish.”