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

Tourism industry ‘will need extended support’

- BY TOM PETERKIN

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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