MORE than half of Scottish tourism businesses are confident about the next 12 months following the Brexit result of the EU referendum, a poll by the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) has revealed.
The organisation’s EU Referendum Impact Assessment survey, which polled members during the month of July, found 27% of respondents “highly confident” about the coming year, with 30% “somewhat confident”; 18% of the businesses surveyed are “somewhat unconfident”, with 3% “highly unconfident”.
The research, which surveyed 415 businesses, of which 68% were accommodation providers and 5% food and drink businesses, found 67% plan to keep investment levels the same in the wake of the referendum, with 18% planning to increase spend; 15% said they intend to put investment on hold. The majority of businesses (88%) said they have had no cancellations since the Brexit result, with just 2% reporting a “worrying number” of call-offs.
When asked about opportunities in the wake of the referendum, the “vast majority” of respondents highlighted taking advantage of the exchange rate, with the fall in the value of the pound after the leave vote said to have made it more affordable for overseas visitors to come to Scotland – and encouraged domestic visitors to remain in the UK.
In terms of concerns highlighted in the STA poll, uncertainty was said to be the “key word”, with respondents highlighting the prospect of a second independence referendum and general UK economic concerns.
Marc Crothall, chief executive of the STA, said the findings underlined the resilience of Scotland’s tourism industry.
“One very clear message came back to us – Scotland’s tourism industry has an inspiring level of confidence,” he said.
“When describing the opportunities, amongst the most frequently-used phrases were ‘pound exchange rate’, ‘more visitors’ and ‘removal of EU VAT regulations’.
“The feelings of optimism and determination are evident, however there is no doubt
that the situation we’re living with at the moment has given rise to feelings of great uncertainty.
“Concern around free movement of workers and a second independence referendum were high on the agenda for most respondents, in addition to the uncertainty around the economy, all of which have far-reaching implications for Scotland’s tourism industry.
“While there are many unknowns our industry is a resilient one. Our ‘business as usual’ approach is reflective of our strength and determination to move forward, grow and succeed, despite the post-Brexit unknowns.”