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Rebuilding Scotland's tourism industry together

Scottish tourism is facing up to its biggest challenge ever with Coronavirus impacting the entire industry.   It is expected that the recovery will take some time and many businesses will require significant support to restart their operations.

The recovery of this crucial £11 billion industry requires a multi-agency approach, working with the tourism industry to help those affected today, tomorrow and in the future.     

The Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) is working hard to help tourism businesses to recover from this unprecedented situation, working collaboratively to make the best use of budgets and their own employee’s time.   They have one goal – to help the tourism industry return to being the economic and social powerhouse it once was.

The group, which consists of the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA); VisitScotland (VS); COSLA; the three Enterprise Agencies - Scottish Enterprise (SE), South of Scotland Enterprise (SoSE), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE); Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and the Scottish Government (SG), has been working on a single, joined-up, phased plan to not just combat the current issues but also look at how the industry could effectively recover once the lockdown is eased.   This has been a real team effort, giving the agencies an opportunity to refocus plans and redirect budget, as well as working alongside the tourism industry to work through daily issues.

To respond most effectively a STERG National action Plan is in development. Scotland Outlook 2030, the new national tourism strategy is also being reviewed and further developed in the light of the pandemic to ensure the assumptions and commitments in the initial document are still valid. Steps will be taken to ensure the appropriate alignment and integration of the two strategic documents in the future.

STERG’s immediate priorities are to support businesses by providing information and reassurance; safeguarding employment; and helping them access financial assistance to maintain cash flow and secure a viable future. 

The four key areas within the plan are:

  • 1. Respond

    1. Respond

    Focused on delivering a package of measures to support the tourism sector who are unable to operate due to stay home and social distancing rules.

    • Gathering intelligence and data
    • Continuing dialogue between government and industry
    • Providing immediate COVID-19 crisis support for businesses and communities
    • Providing immediate workforce support
    • Establishing communications
  • 2. Reset

    2. Reset

    Sectoral guidance to encourage workplace plans for the re-start. It will be essential for businesses to operate in a way that is compliant with social distancing and enable them to be more resilient to re-start safely within the new tourism landscape and new economic environment.

    • Developing new / repurposing existing support
    • Undertaking research and global travel market intelligence
    • Delivering consumer facing communications
    • Preparing for reopening
  • 3. Restart

    3. Restart

    Kick-starting the tourism sector safely is essential.  We will need to consider the impact of supply chains and measures that need to be in place to enable businesses to come back on-stream in a safe and orderly way.

    • Implementing guidance for safe industry re-opening
    • Establishing new and adapted support programmes and interventions
    • Developing marketing and events recovery plans
  • 4. Recovery

    4. Recovery

    Sector recovery is likely to take longer than originally anticipated.  What emerges is likely to be a different landscape characterised by new business models, products, markets and behaviours.

    • Establishing a new oversight group to deliver a tourism economic recovery plan

This plan takes a phased approach and will continue to evolve in line with the scientific evidence and government advice on the reopening of the tourism industry. Responsible tourism will be core to this - working with local communities and destination organisations is crucial as we look to rebuild a successful tourism industry which allows locals and visitors to coexist and ensure the Scottish welcome is at the heart of the visitor experience.

STERG National Action Plan

Published September 2020