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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 09/04/2020

The events and festivals sector in Scotland continues to be hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic with hundreds of events having already been cancelled or postponed, placing significant challenges on the industry.

From our own funded and partner programme events we know more than 130 events and festivals have had to be postponed or cancelled. High profile casualties of the crisis include the August Edinburgh Festivals, which have been cancelled for the first time since their inception in 1947, and The 2020 UEFA European Football Championships which have been postponed to 2021.

With a majority of events and festivals in Scotland taking place throughout the summer period already cancelled or postponed, many other event organisers are monitoring the situation and awaiting government advice before making a decision on their event.

According to event industry research undertaken as part of a wider tourism survey carried out by VisitScotland’s Insights team, the impact on the sector has already been significant with 31% of respondents with employees indicating they have already had to reduce staff numbers to date (30 March) with a likelihood of further losses in the future.

A majority of respondents (69%) also claim to have suffered significant financial impact with losses in excess of £100,000 in some instances.

VisitScotland’s Events Directorate continues to proactively engage event organisers as part of its funded and non-funded programmes while also signposting to updated advice as the situation develops. A Coronavirus advice page is available for tourism businesses with specific guidance and information dedicated to event organisers in Scotland. 

While the situation remains challenging, some events have developed some amazing digital initiatives to help keep us all entertained and active while we stay at home. Edinburgh Science Festival’s digital alternative Elements of #EdSciFest! is allowing its audience to explore their original theme of Elementary’, to explores science’s role in addressing the biggest global environmental challenges through five strands – Air, Earth, Fire, Water and Aether, representing the digital world.  

Meanwhile, the organisers of Run the Blades, Scotland’s premiere trail running event have launched the Be Kind Virtual Run, which can be run or walk responsibly straight from your front door while helping raise money for charity or two small independent businesses nominated by the organisers.  

We also continue to see people sharing their memories of our wonderful coasts and waters using #YCW2020 despite the YCW2020 events programme that was designed to celebrate the year is currently subject to cancellation and postponement. 

The results of the tourism survey and the number of events that have already taken the decision to postpone or cancel shows just how hard this has hit the events and festivals sector in Scotland.

There is no doubt these are hugely challenging times with uncertainty still on the horizon for many event organisers as they consider the future of their events. Our event managers continue to engage on a daily basis with event organisers throughout Scotland and we look forward to helping to plan and support the recovery of the sector when the time is right.

In the meantime, it is heartening to see some events introducing digital initiatives to ensure they can still engage with their audiences during this time

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events

Event organisers are encouraged to continue to monitor and comply with the latest government advice regarding their events.