Coronavirus: industry collaborates on national action plan for tourism sector

Scottish Tourism Emergency Group developing strategy for post-lockdown recovery

HOSPITALITY and tourism trade groups are working with local and Scottish government representatives on a national action plan to tackle the current issues facing the industry and look ahead at how it might recover post-lockdown.

The Scottish Tourism Emergency Group (STERG), which is chaired by VisitScotland and includes the Scottish Tourism Alliance, UK Hospitality, Scottish Government and local authority representatives, and a number of business groups and regional tourism organisations, said its immediate priorities are to support businesses by helping them safeguard employment and access financial assistance.

STERG’s year-long, phased National Action Plan seeks to “not just combat the current issues but also look at how the industry could effectively recover once the lockdown is eased”.

It is split into four key areas: Respond – focused on delivering a package of measures to support businesses; Reset – guidance on planning for re-opening; Restart – measures that need to be in place to enable businesses to come back on-stream “in a safe and orderly way”; and Recovery – the group said economic recovery is “likely to take longer than originally anticipated” and that what emerges is “likely to be a different economy characterised by new business models, markets and behaviours”.

The group said it is currently collaborating to deliver the first two phases of the plan. ‘Respond’ measures so far have included raising industry issues with the Scottish Government, setting up a dedicated business helpline and jobs portal, and gathering intelligence and data on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; while phase two, ‘reset’, involves planning for re-opening with measures including developing a “dream now-travel later” marketing approach, compiling advice on new ways of working, and determining what long-term support may be required. Phases three and four, which focus on post-lockdown measures, are due to be published soon.

STERG said it is “working hard to help tourism businesses to recover from this unprecedented situation”.

“Scottish tourism is facing up to its biggest challenge ever with coronavirus impacting the entire industry,” it said.

“It’s expected that the recovery will take some time and many businesses will require significant support to restart their operations.

“The recovery of this crucial £11 billion industry requires a multi-agency approach, working with the tourism industry to help those affected today, tomorrow and in the future.”