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  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) arrived in Scotland in 2020. The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the virus a global pandemic in March 2020.
  • In October 2020, the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) requested that a full industry survey be undertaken to help determine the scale and impact of the first stages of the pandemic (March to October 2020) on the Scottish tourism industry.
  • We appointed Progressive Partnership, an independent research agency, to undertake the survey on behalf of STERG. There were 2,974 responses to the online survey, which ran from 19 November to 6 December 2020.

  • The sample includes a majority of accommodation providers, particularly self-catering. This is important to bear in mind when looking at total sample findings. A detailed break down of the sample by the main business activity is available in the full report to download.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Industry Survey 2020

Published January 2021

1. Executive summary

1.1 The impact of tourism sector re-opening

For some the summer and autumn months 2020 were better than expected but the large majority experienced lower turnover than in 2019 and the decrease was significant –60% on average.

Over a third of businesses reported that they did worse than expected when they re-opened in the summer or early autumn months (2020). One in four did do better than they expected. A breakdown by sector and by region is available in the report to download.

1.2 Revenue losses

Almost all businesses reported losses due to the pandemic. At the time of the survey (November/December 2020) revenue losses tended to be in the region of £10,000 to £50,000. More than half of all businesses responding claim to have lost up to £50,000 (58%). 39% reported losses of more than £50,000, with one in ten losing more than £500,000.

1.3 Reduction in staff numbers

Three quarters of respondents reported that they had reduced their staff numbers, with one third of these making staff redundant. Hotels were the most likely to report that they had made staff redundant and reported the highest average number of redundancies.

1.4 Measures taken by businesses

Scaling back operations, reducing staff and reducing the range of products/services offered were the main actions taken to help businesses survive the crisis.

Half reported that they had made changes that they plan to continue post COVID-19, such as looking at different ways to market and sell, targeting new markets and creating new products and services.

Further detail

Read more information available within the report to download on:

  • measures taken by tourism businesses to adapt and survive during 2020
  • views looking ahead to 2021
  • financial support used during the crisis in 2020
  • challenges experienced by businesses when accessing support
  • the sources of information and advice used

2. Additional research resources

We conducted several surveys to inform decision making and recovery planning during the pandemic. To monitor the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), we also supported the work of partner organisations.

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