The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Tourism in­dus­try ‘will need ex­tended sup­port’

- BY TOM PETERKIN UK News · United Kingdom · Government of the United Kingdom · Scottish Government · Scotland · BBC Scotland · Inverness · Nairn · Fergus Ewing · Iain Stewart

Fer­gus Ewing warned is­lands and ru­ral tourism busi­nesses will suf­fer un­der the UK Gov­ern­ment’s plans to end the fur­lough scheme at the end of Oc­to­ber.

The tourism sec­re­tary re­newed Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment calls for the multi-bil­lion­pound ini­tia­tive to help busi­nesses through the coro­n­avirus cri­sis to be ex­tended.

His call came as UK Scot­land Of­fice Min­is­ter Iain Ste­wart sug­gested the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment should be “more am­bi­tious” when it came to kick-start­ing the econ­omy.

Ap­pear­ing on BBC Scot­land’s Pol­i­tics Show, Mr Ewing said the im­pact on the Scot­tish tourism sec­tor would be “so se­vere” that a longert­erm scheme was needed as well as a VAT cut.

The In­ver­ness and Nairn MSP – who said he was “pretty con­fi­dent” Scot­land’s tourism sec­tor would re­open on July 15 – said: “I am hope­ful we can achieve some­thing in Scot­land but also in other parts of the UK where the need for this will be sim­i­lar.

“Novem­ber is a very bad time for the ho­tel sec­tor. Many in ru­ral and is­land com­mu­ni­ties in the tourism sec­tor have a sea­son which lasts only from April to Septem­ber.

“There­fore to cut off sup­port just at the time when the sea­son ends, from that point of view, looks to be pretty dra­co­nian.”

Around 628,200 peo­ple in Scot­land have been fur­loughed.

But Mr Ste­wart said he did not think it would be “help­ful” to fo­cus on the fur­lough scheme be­yond Oc­to­ber.

“I think the fo­cus of the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment should be a bit more am­bi­tious to make sure the econ­omy is get­ting up and run­ning,” he said.

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