Adventure and marine tourism businesses in Scotland will be able to apply for a share of a new £2.5 million fund to help them prepare for the 2021 visitor season.
The Marine and Outdoor Tourism Re-start Fund will be launched towards the end of January and will be administered by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government. Sector groups Wild Scotland and Sail Scotland who secured this funding on behalf of their sectors will be supporting us throughout the process.
The fund will support essential re-commissioning and re-start costs for businesses, aimed at those who have been significantly affected by the pandemic due to their seasonality and high set up costs associated with the activities they deliver.
It's aimed at responsible tourism operators who provide sustainable outdoor related activities to visitors on land and water, from wildlife watching to charter and sailing holidays, bushcraft and survival to canoeing and mountaineering.
Scotland’s landscape and climate make it ideal for the growing interest from visitors in adventure and nature-related activities. The pandemic has seen an increase in outdoor adventures, with cycling, running and open-water swimming growing in popularity among Scots, both during and post lockdown.
Businesses will be able to apply for grants of up to £15,000 and applications for the fund will open in late January. In advance of the fund going live, we will release full details of the fund, the eligibility criteria and what applicants will need to prepare for their application.
The final amounts awarded to a successful applicant will be determined once all applications are received. Due to the complexity and breadth of businesses within the sector, a two-strand approach to grant funding is necessary to meet the needs of the sector. Businesses may only apply to one strand.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on the Scottish tourism industry, and our valuable marine and outdoor adventure sectors are no exception. Many businesses are struggling as a result of the pandemic – particularly due to lost revenue during the traditional peak spring and summer season.
Recovery will require our collective efforts and this funding support will enable outdoor businesses to address some of the challenges they face around re-opening for 2021. Businesses across these sectors are at the heart of providing responsible, memorable experiences that connect visitors with Scotland’s great outdoors and our incredible coasts and waters.
We are pleased to be able to work with our partners Sail Scotland and Wild Scotland in delivering the fund and look forward to releasing more details about how to apply in due course.
Wild Scotland has played a vital role alongside Sail Scotland in securing this funding for such an important sector which is not only fundamental to Scotland’s economy but crucial to rural and fragile communities of Scotland. It is essential that businesses are ready to go at the start of the season, not only will they then be able to fulfil the potential demand for our incredible outdoor activities, wildlife watching experiences and marine activities, but the sector is incredibly well placed to drive the demand for tourism in Scotland which will support the wider recovery across the tourism industry.
Outdoor tourism has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, but it is also a sector with huge growth potential, particularly in the deliverance of sustainable and responsible tourism activities which in time will create new jobs and ensure Scotland is on the map as a world leading responsible tourism destination.
This fund really does highlight the importance of the outdoor sector in Scotland and the vital role it will play in the recovery post COVID-19, both economically and mentally.
Recent industry surveys indicated over 75% of operators in the charter sector secured two months or less of trading in 2020. In addition, the two metre physical distancing rules made it unviable for many charter, sail, cruise and day trip businesses to operate. Managers of local visitor moorings and pontoon services faced a vastly curtailed season, many of whom are not for profit community led groups operating on extremely thin margins.
The Fund aims to support operators meet the high re-commissioning and re-start costs associated with the sector and will provide much needed confidence to many operators. The importance of supporting the sector at this time of year is vital, not just for direct jobs but also the valuable economic benefits marine tourism brings to rural and remote coastal and island communities.