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The Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) consists of COSLA, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, South of Scotland Enterprise, the Scottish Tourism Alliance,  and VisitScotland has been working on a single, joined-up, phased National Action 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.

The Group may need additional representation, either on an ad hoc basis depending on the subject at hand or on a permanent basis.

This page includes key notes and actions for the following meetings:

 

Thursday 02 July | key notes and actions

Industry Update:

The STA Destination Members Forum took place on 1st July. A key area of concern that was highlighted and discussed was community engagement and community sentiment – in particular island destinations where media coverage is amplifying concerns e.g. telegraph article on 30th June.

There was an ask for marketing activity to counter the suggestions that visitors are not welcome and that Scotland is shut. Frances Pacitti, Director of Aviation, Maritime, Freight and Canals at Transport Scotland joined the call and took questions specifically relating to the concerns about the ferries. Discussions are continuing off line.

There is increasing news about impending redundancies particularly in smaller businesses. Hotel occupancy is not seeing the expected pick up particularly in some of the larger hotels such as Crieff and Macdonald Hotels – consumer confidence continues to be a concern

It is hoped that the self-catering sector are able to get off to a good start this weekend. The STA will continue to reinforce messaging around supporting communities and behaving responsibly.

 

Scottish Tourism Recovery Taskforce (STRT):

The first meeting of the Taskforce took place on 25 June. A formal communication following the meeting is expected – to include members of the Taskforce. Action: Fiona Cook to press for the post meeting communication to be published.

The Taskforce will focus on 3 workstreams, Demand, Recovery and Investment. Output from these workstreams will inform STERG actions.

A section for the Taskforce has been created on VS.org.

 

VisitScotland Meeting with Cabinet Secretary and MSPs:
VisitScotland met with 45 MSPs on 1 July. The MSPs in attendance represented all parties and all geographies across Scotland.

VisitScotland provided an update on STERG and shared their Marketing plans. The overarching theme of the meeting was community concerns.

Overall it was a very positive session with a lot of questions raised. The questions raised can be shared with the group as required.

 

Tourism & Hospitality Guidance / Good to Go Scheme:

Around 2,000 businesses have signed up to the Good to Go scheme across Scotland. C. 900 are self-catering however there is also a good range of hotels, B&Bs, guest houses, pubs and food outlets. A breakdown is available to STERG if required.

The following outstanding concerns on the guidance were raised:

1. Ensuring the consistency of interpretation and application of the guidance by EHO’s across local authorities.

VisitScotland have a direct link to the chief local authority officer coordinating EHOs and will pick this
up.

 

2. Opening of hotel leisure facilities, spas, swimming pools etc.
- It was noted that Active Scotland are expected to publish guidance on the opening of pools on 13th July.

3. Clarity on any guidelines for weddings / small gatherings / small events, e.g. cap on numbers. In
England the guidelines have been quite strict.

4. Greater clarity required on how to deal with visitors / conference delegates / event attendees who are showing signs of COVID-19 either while staying with accommodation providers or attending an event.

This is particularly challenging for island communities, those who have travelled via public transport or
those who live overseas where returning home may not be possible.

This has been highlighted to James Johnston, Scottish Government lead and more specific guidance is expected to be published shortly.

It was noted that the sector guidance is a live document and will continue to change and be updated as frequently as required.

 

Funding Packages Update
The final stages of applications and appeals for the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund and the Creative Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund are in progress and will be completed imminently.

It is expected that the Scottish Government will publish a breakdown of the data relating to these funds, however no publication date is yet known.

An update on NDR grant applications through the local authorities can be found on the Scottish Government website.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-business-support-fund-grantstatistics/

The VisitScotland Destination and Sector Group Covid-19 support scheme has now allocated all funds. 83 organisations received funding totalling c. £520k.

STERG Action Plan:

The updated STERG Action Plan was published on VisitScotland.org this week.

https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/advice/coronavirus/sterg/national-action-plan

It was agreed that the SE weekly economic reports did not provide a sufficient level of tourism sector information for STERG to address Action 7.3, “Ongoing economic analysis to understand the impact of
the COVID-19 crisis across the geography of Scotland and across the sub sectors of the tourism industry.”


It was suggested that the content presented by Kevin Brady and Chris Greenwood at the first Scottish Tourism Recovery Taskforce meeting on 25 June may be more relevant to STERG.

Action: Karen Christie to circulate the presentations provided by Kevin Brady and Chris Greenwood at the first Scottish Tourism Recovery Taskforce meeting for STERG to review.

A working group led by SG has continued to develop the scenario planning work. The working group are requesting to ‘check in’ with STERG on Thursday 9th July to share the approach taken, the work
progressed so far and the anticipated outputs to ensure the work still meets with STERG’s expectation.


Action: Karen Christie to invite Kevin Brady, Scottish Government to join the next STERG meeting on 9th
July.

It was agreed that a STERG planning session will be planned for the end of July / beginning of August once the output from the scenario planning work is available and the output from the Taskforce
workstreams are known.

The working group will continue to refresh the Action Plan on a regular basis.

Action: Karen Christie to schedule the STERG planning session (estimated w/c 13 August).

 

Scottish Government Update:

Priority continues to be on the questions and issues arising from the Tourism & Hospitality Guidance, in addition there is a focus on the discussions about people entering Scotland and being prepared for the changes that are anticipated to be announced this week by the FM.

 

Redundancy Update:

An update on redundancy information was circulated prior to the meeting. No further updates were
noted.

It was agreed to continue to collate this information while appreciating that it is difficult to ensure it is
kept up to date.

 

Partner Updates:
Enterprise Agencies
Focus remains on getting the funding awards out to businesses as quickly as possible and advising Scottish Government Ministers on funding gaps.

 

Next Meeting Date
The next meeting will convene on Thursday 9 July, 11.00am-12.00pm.

 

Thursday 25 June | key notes and actions

Scottish Government Guidance:

The Scottish Government launched the Tourism & Hospitality Sector Guidance on 18th June. So far the guidance has been viewed 15k times.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-tourism-and-hospitality-sector-guidance/

VisitScotland’s ‘Get Tourism Ready’ campaign was launched at the same time to support this guidance. So far the Visitscotland web page has had 10k visits.

https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/advice/coronavirus-recovery/preparing-to-open

In addition today saw the launch of the new ‘Good To Go‘ scheme, a UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark designed to give confidence to visitors that businesses are adhering to official government and sectoral guidance.

https://goodtogo.visitbritain.com/your-business-good-to-go-scotland

Since the guidance was launched, one of the primary issues that has arisen is, what happens if someone contracts COVID-19 when staying with an accommodation provider? What should the business do? What would be the impact on future bookings? Is there a potential risk of closure due to self-isolation?

It was noted that the UKH guidance was very good and points to NHS advice however further clarity is required. Currently the advice is that if people fall sick while staying in your premises then they should go home so long as it is safe to do so.

It was acknowledged however that if someone gets sick on the islands then it could be very difficult to get home given ferry capacity issues and the ability to self-isolate on board.

The Scottish Government would like to work with industry to come up with a workable solution to address this. Other issues that require further clarity are:

- Wedding receptions and hotel events, is there a cap on the number of people who can attend?
- When can leisure facilities and swimming pools in hotels open
- Guidelines for exclusive use properties and large self-catering properties where multiple families may
stay together.

 

Advisory Group on Economic Recovery - Recommendations

Report:

The Advisory Group on Economic Recovery published it’s recommendations on 22nd June.


https://www.gov.scot/publications/towards-robust-resilient-wellbeing-economy-scotland-reportadvisory-
group-economic-recovery/

 

The recommendations will be presented to the Cabinet for consideration.

The recommendations will also be presented to the Scottish Tourism Recovery Taskforce for a more detailed consideration with the opportunity to further develop the recommendations in the final
Taskforce report.

It was noted that the three direct references to Tourism within the recommendations are thought to already be underway, namely, to develop a sustainable tourism strategy (Scotland Outlook 2030 – Responsible Tourism for a Sustainable Future, was launched on 4th March), VAT reduction – this is currently a real live issue and a targeted reduction in business rates.

It was noted that Scotland outlook 2030 should be the basis for any future recommendations.

 

STERG Action Plan:

The working group reviewed and updated the STERG Action Plan as appropriate. A refreshed Action Plan (23rd June) was approved for publication by STERG.

Action: Barbara Clark and Karen Christie to liaise on publication.

It was highlighted that the scope of Action 7.3 “Ongoing economic analysis to understand the impact of the COVID-19 crisis across the geography of Scotland and across the sub sectors of the tourism industry.” would be reviewed once STERG members had reviewed the weekly economic reports issued by Scottish Enterprise.

Action: STERG members to confirm to Karen Christie whether the SE weekly economic reports provides
the right level of detail.

The working group reviewed the Toposophy proposal and although well received by all, the group concluded that the recommended headline actions were in the main out of scope, i.e. good proposals
but not immediately relevant to the STERG Restart or Recovery phases. It was noted that the Actions were more suited in the longer term, beyond Recovery. They may fit with the Taskforce agenda.

However they would sit well with Scotland Outlook 2030. A summary of the working group’s conclusions will be prepared.

The Scottish Government and VisitScotland are liaising with members of the working group to develop 6-9 month planning scenarios to help shape the further development of the STERG Action Plan. These are expected to be available w/c 13th July.

 

VisitScotland Marketing:
A webinar was held today with Vicki Miller to share VisitScotland’s new Marketing campaign. Over 200
people joined the webinar which was recorded and will be made available online.

It was agreed that the right level of marketing support to ensure Scotland’s competitiveness was critical and the group questioned whether there was sufficient funding available or whether there should be a request for more.

It was recommended that VisitScotland put in a bid through the normal channels, with the endorsement of STERG, which could allow VisitScotland to seriously upscale activity.

Action: STERG members to feed back any comments on the Marketing plan to Riddell Graham.

 

Scottish Tourism Recovery Taskforce (STRT):
The Scottish Government have launched details of the new Taskforce, details can be found here:
https://www.gov.scot/news/new-tourism-taskforce/

The Taskforce will meet for the first time today (25th June).

The Taskforce will be supported by the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG). The Taskforce will act as an advisory group with the STERG operating as the delivery arm. The STERG will be
responsible for taking forward the agreed recommendations and delivering the Recovery plan.

It is anticipated that the Taskforce will break into 3 different work streams in order to focus on the priority areas where action is required. It is proposed that STERG members will facilitate the workshops to kick this off.

Action: Scottish Government team to clarify the specific role of STERG for the workshops.

 

Industry Update:
Diageo has recently announced the launch of a new $100m global programme to support pubs and bars to welcome customers back and recover following the COVID-19 pandemic. “Raising the Bar” will be a two-year programme available from July 2020. £4m has been allocated to Scotland.


https://www.diageo.com/en/news-and-media/press-releases/diageo-launches-100-million-recoveryfund-
to-help-pubs-and-bars-welcome-back-customers-after-lockdown/

 

Redundancy Update:
It was noted that capturing redundancy information would ensure that 1. The Scottish Government were aware of the scale of the situation and 2. Encourage the Enterprise Agencies to feed in to give the wider picture and to provide evidence if required.

It was highlighted that capturing this data was difficult however STERG members would feed in the information that they had.

Recent surveys (STA, ASVA, SB&PA) have indicated the potential threat to jobs across the sector.

https://scottishtourismalliance.co.uk/press-release-tourism-industry-survey-confirms-majority-of-businesses-in-sector-are-economically-unsustainable-if-2m-physical-distancing-rule-remains/

 

Funding Packages Update:
Pauline Howie, Scottish Enterprise, provided an update to the STA Council on 23rd June on the latest status of the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund and the Creative Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises
Hardship Fund.


- Both funds closed on 18th May.
- All appraisals for both funds are now complete, the only exceptions are outstanding customer enquiries
or appeals.
- All appeals expected to be completed by mid-July.
- All details of the funds can be found on https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/
- Details of the appeals process can be found here https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/coronavirusadvice/
further-information-on-your-application

- All letters to unsuccessful applicants includes a telephone number to enable a follow up call.
- Information regarding the full appraisal process and a list of all successful applicants will be published in due course.
 An update on NDR grant applications through the local authorities was provided.
- c. 96k applications received
- c. 79k grants awarded
- c. £900m awarded

The new Scottish Government support fund for B&B’s operating from a personal bank account, opened
for applications on 15th June via local authorities, this fund will close on 10th July along with the other NDR grants .

It was highlighted that there have been issues with some of the criteria and Scottish
Government colleagues are currently looking at whether a relaxation on some of the criteria would be possible allowing more local authorities to exercise discretion.

 

Partner Updates:
Business Gateway
Business Gateway ran it’s second back To Business webinar, “Restarting the Tourism Sector in Scotland (panel discussion)” on 24th June, with Hugh Lightbody, Chief Officer Business Gateway National Unit, Anna Miller Head of Tourism, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Riddell Graham, Director of Industry & Destination Development, VisitScotland and Jemma Reid, Consultant and Project Manager, Midlothian & Borders Tourism Action Group.

The recording can be found on the Business Gateway YouTube site.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IydAtWd-4I

 

Next Meeting Date
The next meeting will convene on Thursday 2nd July, 11.00am-12.00pm.

Thursday 18 June | key notes and actions

Industry Update and Ongoing Concerns:

The Scottish Tourism Alliance board met with the Secretary of State for Scotland on 11 June where the urgent need for ongoing long term financial support for the sector was emphasised along with a discussion on the implications of current social distancing guidelines on the viability of many businesses and the impact of reducing the guidelines from 2m to 1m.

Marc Crothall and Stephen Leckie met with the First Minister on 11th June. The First Minister was very empathetic to the challenges being faced by the industry and wants to work with industry to ensure that that businesses can open up as soon as it can. Details of the meeting can be found here on the STA website.

The STA launched a survey on 16 June to gather data on the potential impact of the 2 metre social distancing rule on restaurants and accommodation providers, in relation to loss of employment and business viability. The survey will close on 21 June and the results will be fed back to the Scottish Government at the beginning of next week and specifically shared with the Cabinet Secretary at the STA Council meeting on 23 June. Currently there are over 1,000 responses.

This survey will complement the recent survey by the Scottish Beer & Pub Association which covered over 300 pubs and which found that it would not be financially viable for almost nine out of ten landlords to reopen their doors if the two-metre distancing guidelines were still in place – potentially leading to the direct loss of over 23,600 jobs within the trade.

https://scottishtourismalliance.co.uk/press-release-more-than-23600-hospitality-jobs-on-the-line-if-social-distancing-guidelines-are-not-re-examined/

ASVA are also running a survey looking at ‘Readiness to “Reopen”, which includes the implications of 2m vs 1m social distancing. This survey will close on 19 June.

The STA Board and invited leading hoteliers from across Scotland will meet with Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism later today to outline the devastating impact that COVID-19 is having on these larger hotel businesses and what is needed to rescue these businesses for the future.

The threat of large scale redundancy is very real and will continue to rise if consideration is not given to reducing the 2m social distancing guidelines, looking at ways to stimulate consumer demand, (currently these larger hotels are running at c. 6% occupancy across July & August) and addressing the crippling ongoing costs.

It was noted there was some positive news. Auchrannie for example had seen very strong bookings since the announcement last week, however it was highlighted that the ferry issues remain a critical challenge.

The Scottish Government team advised that the ferries was Mr Ewing’s priority and that he was pushing hard with Mr Matheson and Mr Wheelhouse to find solutions. It was also noted that the NC500 is seeing positive movement as is self-catering who have had a strong
boost for July & August post the announcement last week.

Many questions are being raised about the sector guidance, it will be critical therefore to ensure once the guidance is published that the signposting is very clear for businesses on where to go to have their
questions answered.

Scottish Government CV-19 Tourism & Hospitality Sector Guidance:

The Tourism & Hospitality Sector guidance is due to be published today, 18 June. This guidance is
overarching in nature and industry will be signposted to sector guidelines for further details.

It is expected that there will be a number of questions raised around whether or not specific activity can
take place, a number of examples were identified:
- Functions, e.g. weddings, will there be a cap on numbers?
- Rules for exclusive use houses?
- Opening of public toilets
- Opening of Spas, health clubs etc. in hotels

It was noted that the guidance would be unlikely to give clarity on these points however it was highlighted that there will be guidance on ceremonies and the Scottish Government Route Map should
give clarity on this. The mass gatherings and events guidance is due to be published on 26 June.

“Good to Go” Scheme:

The VisitScotland Board has approved the “Good to Go” scheme and the Cabinet Secretary has also signed off Scottish Government support for the scheme.

VisitEngland, VisitWales and Tourism Northern Ireland have all signed up and the scheme is due to launch on Tuesday 23 June. VisitScotland will supply the Scottish Guidelines (Scottish Government Guidance and sector guidelines).

It was noted that James Johnston, Scottish Government had done an excellent job with the sector guidance as he had really listened to the needs and concern of industry.

STERG Action Plan:

The latest version of the STERG Action Plan (dated 12 June) is live on VS.org.

The working group will meet today to build on and develop the Action Plan further, taking on board comments from STERG members and a recent proposal from Toposophy. All proposed changes will be presented to STERG for approval.

A first cut of the scenario planning work which is being led by the Scottish Government will be available for review this week. This piece of work will identify a set of core planning assumptions which will inform the STERG Action Plan.

Members of the new Scottish Tourism Recovery Taskforce will be announced shortly. It is expected that there will be c. 30 members. Action: Scottish Government to circulate the list of members to all STERG members.

It was noted that the Taskforce, chaired by Mr Ewing, will be a high level advisory group while the STERG will be the critical group responsible for delivery.

VisitScotland Update – Community Engagement, Promoting Businesses That Are Open, Marketing Plans:

VS will take a three tier approach to community engagement. The first tier will focus on community hot hotspots with c.6 round table events being held with key community groups and others key stakeholders from the destination.

The next tier will focus on the traditional honey pots with similar round table activity and the final tier reflects the continuous data gathering by the Regional Directors and teams. All activity will kick off w/c 22 June.

It was noted that community sentiment is changing as we hear more about redundancies and unemployment. There is recognition that there are two sides to the tourism story.

It was highlighted that it was absolutely key to get community engagement activity right.

It was reiterated that the sector Guidance that has been developed is intended to provide reassurance to employees, communities and visitors. It was noted that the guidance has a section about respecting communities and the countryside.

All VS messaging is intended to provide reassurance to communities and visitors.

A detailed communication plan is in place and covers the following:

  • This week will prioritise SG and sector guidance
  • On Monday 22 the focus will be on the community. 5-6 community case studies which demonstrate best practice within destinations will be published.

Also next week the comms will cover the Marketing recovery plan

  • Updates to vs.com to highlight open/closed, good to go will take place in the coming weeks.
  • The Marketing recovery plans are currently being finalised and will be circulated when available.

Action: Barbara Clark to send a briefing paper with all VS activity to Scottish Government.

Funding Packages Update:

Pivotal Enterprises Resilience Fund and Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund:

  • Both funds are closed.
  • All PERF appraisals are now coming to an end. It was noted that Enterprise agency colleagues have been
  • working incredibly hard to process all applications.
  • The appeals process is open and appeals are beginning to come through. A sectoral breakdown of grants awarded is not yet available.

An update on NDR grant applications through the local authorities was provided.

  • - c. 94k applications received
  • - c. 77k grants awarded
  • - c. £875m awarded

It was noted that applications have started to rise again, this could be due to the fact that the NDR based grants will close on 10 July.
The new Scottish Government support fund for B&B’s operating from a personal bank account opened for applications on 15th June via local authorities. So far the uptake has been small.

Action: Hugh Lightbody to update the group next week on progress.

Redundancies:

There are many hotel groups currently undergoing consultation. IHG managed, Apex, Crieff Family hotels, Macdonalds, Chardon, Radisson, Marriott with thousands of jobs at risk. There is also a large number of redundancies expected in the Visitor Attraction sector c.3-4k (TBC). One of the largest sectors with jobs at risk was announced by the Scottish Beer & Pub Association 23,600 jobs in pubs across Scotland.

It is recognised that social distancing guidelines does have a part to play, however so does the level of demand from visitors, which is currently very low, (occupancy projections to early next year do not look good), and ongoing costs such as maintaining furlough. It is acknowledged that Ms Hyslop and Ms Forbes have made the case for continued to support to the UK Treasury and there is hope that the Chancellor’s statement (6 July) will have some good news.

It was noted that there is value in collectively capturing the details of consultations / redundancies that are being announced in order to provide evidence to the Scottish Government of the scale of the impact on jobs within the sector.

Action: Karen Christie to create a spreadsheet for partners to capture key redundancy information.

To demonstrate the scale of redundancies PACE, in April & May dealt with 540 employees across 18 hospitality businesses. Last year PACE dealt with a total of 631 employees across the whole year.

AOB:

Independent Advisory Group on Economic Recovery (Chaired by Benny Higgins)

  • Recommendations due to be presented to Scottish Government on 22nd June
  • A debate on economic recovery is being planned in the Scottish Government w/c 22nd June, this will be
  • an opportunity for all points to be discussed
  • It is expected that the recommendations will be published

Business Gateway will be running a webinar, “Restarting the Tourism Sector in Scotland (panel discussion)” on 24 June, with Hugh Lightbody, Chief Officer Business Gateway National Unit, Anna
Miller Head of Tourism, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Riddell Graham, Director of Industry & Destination Development, VisitScotland and Jemma Reid, Consultant and Project Manager, Midlothian & Borders Tourism Action Group.

https://www.bgateway.com/events/back-to-business-webinar-re-starting-the-tourism-sector-inscotland-
panel-discussion-17274

It was recognised that Jemma Reid, Consultant and Project Manager, Midlothian & Borders Tourism Action Group has been a star in terms of communicating with businesses during this crisis and was a
great example of a Destination Organisation.

VisitScotland Industry Impact Survey
It was acknowledged that there are many industry surveys circulating right now and therefore there was no need for a follow up Industry Impact Survey. However it was agreed that we should continue to
monitor the situation to see when the time could be right.

Next Meeting Date:
The next meeting will convene on Thursday 25th June, 11.00am-12.00pm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 11 June | key notes and actions

Industry update and Ongoing Concerns:

The importance of reducing the social distancing guidelines from 2m to 1m, this has a critical impact on the viability of many businesses and also has a significant impact on ferry capacity and therefore our island communities.

- Clarity is urgently required on the opening date for pubs and restaurants with outdoor spaces that are identified in Phase 2. If the target publication date for the Tourism & Hospitality sector guidance is 18th June, when can these businesses open? There are many factors to be considered e.g. licensing, planning, access to toilets etc. A statement from the Scottish Government on this is needed quickly.

- In Phase 3 clarity is required on the reopening of gyms, pools, spas etc, can the full product be opened on 15th July?

- Clarity also required on when zoos and safari parks can open in Scotland, in England they can open from 15th June.

- An announcement is expected on Friday 12th June in the UK Parliament about English Conference centres being re-classified and placed under the same category as pubs, hotels and restaurants in England, differentiating these venues from mass gatherings. Could this also be considered in Scotland?

- Overall an opening date is welcomed, however this is only the start of a very long and difficult road ahead. Recent announcements of potential job losses across hotel operators and in the Visitor Attraction sector is devastating for the ndustry and emphasises the urgent need for ongoing support to ensure the survival of the sector.

The Scottish Government team asked for the issues highlighted to be forwarded to them in order to respond directly. In addition the team advised that the Scottish Government continue to press for furlough extensions as well as a funded sector recovery plan across the UK. Within the Scottish Government there is the ability to tailor support to suit Scottish businesses if the right information is provided.

 

STERG Action Plan: 

The working group updated and circulated the Action Plan for approval at the STERG meeting.

The Action Plan was approved, however it was agreed that the timing of each of the 4 phases in the plan
should mirror the timing of the Scottish Government’s Economic Response Plan. It was agreed that the refreshed Plan should be accompanied by a narrative which clearly states that this is not the reopening timetable.

It was recommended that Tracey Martin, Falkirk Council (Deputy Chair, SLAED Tourism Group), join the
working group as the local authority representative.

The working group will meet w/c 15th June to build on and develop the Action Plan further.

 

Tourism & Hospitality Sector Guidance and “Good to Go” Scheme: The STERG sub-group which was recently set up with representatives of a number of sector bodies, met on Friday 5 June with James Johnston, the Scottish Government lead on sector guidelines and three union representatives, to comment on the Scottish Government’s draft Tourism and Hospitality Sector Guidance. The target publication date for the final document is 18 June. When published the document will link to the detailed guidelines which have been developed by the different sector bodies.
VisitScotland are working very closely with James Johnston on a communication plan.

The “Good to go” scheme, (an online self-certification platform), developed by VisitEngland, has now
been approved by the VisitScotland board. VisitScotland will be discussing the scheme further with
VisitEngland, VisitWales and Tourism Northern Ireland on a call this afternoon.

It was noted that the scheme does not yet have approval from the Scottish Government and there was
still further questions to be answered before it would be put before Ministers for approval.

It was highlighted that industry have been asking for such a scheme and would be very supportive of VisitScotland’s decision to approve.

 

Community Engagement : The importance of community engagement is strongly recognised and VisitScotland are developing a plan which addresses this involving the regional VisitScotland teams and Keep Scotland Beautiful. The plan includes showcasing best practice and already there are many positive examples from different destinations. It was also noted that other islands issues, in particular transport and the positive and negative views from communities will also feed into this plan.

It was acknowledged that there are many differing views towards reopening coming from communities and from tourism businesses themselves and it was noted that there is a lot of activity happening at a local level to address this. However it was stressed that messaging at a local level and a national level
should be consistent.

It was suggested that local councillors and the local chambers of commerce have a role to play in community engagement.

It was agreed that securing community support was critical to following the Route map and getting businesses to open safely.

 

Data Collection for VisitScotland.com: VisitScotland are undertaking a project to collect information from across Scotland about what tourism businesses will be open and which businesses won’t. This project will also identify which businesses are
part of the Good To Go scheme (or similar scheme). This information will then be made visible on VisitScotland.com providing reassurance to both consumers and businesses. An industry communication
plan has been developed and is imminent.

 

Funding Packages Update: Pivotal Enterprises Resilience Fund and Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund.
- Both funds are closed.
- A review of all Hardship applications is now complete. It was noted some applications which were
previously rejected may be reconsidered on the basis of a further review of cash flow statements
- Most applications to the PERF have now been processed. It was noted that the fund was close to being
fully allocated.
- All PERF applicants in the HIE area, whose application was unsuccessful, now have the opportunity to
discuss the reasons why their application was unsuccessful with a HIE member of staff.
- A sectoral breakdown of grants awarded is not yet available.

An update on NDR grant applications through the local authorities was provided.
- c. 90.5k applications received
- c. 75k grants awarded
- c. £848.7m awarded

The fund for NDR based grants will close on 10th July. This raised the question as to what would happen to the balance of the funds? Could they be allocated to businesses with a RV >£51k? Could local
authorities be given the discretion to do something with the balance? It was noted that there was a project group meeting this afternoon to discuss.

The Scottish Government team advised that all consequentials will go to support businesses and if there is a potential underspend then it is important to pause the funding and evaluate how businesses can best be supported and larger businesses will be part of that discussion. It was noted that some larger businesses were not getting business rate relief or there was confusion
over 100% rate relief and grant funding.

It was also noted that a further issue has arisen where businesses with a RV >£51 have been re-evaluated or are being re-evaluated and now fall under the £51k RV, will they now be able to apply for the NDR grants as they will be eligible?

An update on the Destination and Sector Support fund was provided.
- 81 membership organisations were successfully awarded funding.
- The successful applicants represent destinations and sectors from all across Scotland.
- Every eligible business who applied has received funding.
- Unsuccessful applications did not meet the eligibility criteria.
- A news release was issued by VisitScotland today with further details

 

Partner Updates
Skills Development Scotland: 

  • SDS continuing to develop Keep Scotland Working response and communicating key messages on evidence gathered.
  • Key themes being discussed in terms of response to the crisis focusing on protecting apprenticeships, responding to adult unemployment, upskilling and re-skilling the workforce and supporting the FE/HE sectors to deliver in the post-COVID world.
  • PACE initiative gearing up to respond to large scale redundancies across all sectors.

 

Business Gateway

  • Primary focus continues to be administering the government support schemes
  •  There are many local authority meetings taking place right now which are discussing the implications of the reopening of tourism, for example the need for toilets. Local authorities are alert to these needs however the ability to respond is being challenged by the availability of resource as many staff have been redeployed into other areas.

 

Enterprise Agencies

  • Focus continues to be on appraising the remaining applications for the support funds and issuing offers.
  • SE Account Managers are increasingly dealing with companies who are facing immediate job losses or uncertainty about longer term survival, SE are trying to support these companies in the best way possible. The question was asked as to whether there was a need to consider capturing this information to inform future interventions?
  • It was highlighted that it was difficult to collect this type of information in advance, such as consultation announcements, as many businesses do not want to make their future actions public.
  • It was noted that it was difficult to get a feel for whether businesses would require additional financial support to adapt their businesses in order to operate safely when they reopen. It was acknowledged that some businesses will require support to make the necessary changes to their businesses however it is hoped that grants or loans will have been set aside to cover this. Once the guidance has been published the requirements of businesses will be more apparent.

 

VisitScotland

  • The VisitScotland Comms team is working closely with the Scottish Government Tourism team on communications around the B&B fund which will be launched on 15th June, getting tourism ready for reopening and the Good To Go scheme.
  • Detailed marketing plans have been prepared and will be shared as soon as possible.

 

Next Meeting Date
The next meeting will convene on Thursday 18th June, 11.00am-12.00pm.

Thursday 4 June | key notes and actions

Islands Tourism Issues: The impact of reduced ferry capacity, (20% due to social distancing guidelines and wider operational issues), on island communities, has been raised as a significant area of concern this week in numerous meetings, (e.g. Transport Scotland, Outer Hebrides, Arran, STA Council, HIE). This impact will not only be felt by island tourism businesses – with visitors unable to reach them, but by all island communities as local economies will be severely impacted.

HIE is currently engaging with many communities at a local level to understand the most effective way to support these communities.

There is an urgent need for ongoing (financial) support packages for businesses on the islands who feel they are being additionally disadvantaged as the ability to receive visitors could be heavily delayed. Again, there will be a continued push to influence the Scottish Government and UK Government for additional ongoing support. The Tourism ministers from all 4 nations will meet on 9th June. This will be an opportunity to continue to press on outstanding issues such as financial support, however it was noted that the UK Government have now appeared to have moved on to Recovery, whereas in Scotland there is still a need to support businesses in crisis.

Tourism & Hospitality Sector Guidance and “Good to Go” Scheme: A STERG sub-group has been set up with representatives of a number of sector bodies to feed into the development of the Tourism & Hospitality sector guidelines. A meeting will be held on Friday 5th June with James Johnston, the Scottish Government lead on sector guidelines to comment on the Scottish Government’s draft guidelines for the Tourism and Hospitality sector.

VisitEngland, VisitWales, Tourism Northern Ireland have now signed up to the “Good to go” scheme (online self-certification platform) developed by VisitEngland. VisitScotland and the Scottish Government team are in discussion about what this could look like and how it would work in Scotland. Currently there is no decision in Scotland. A paper in support of the scheme will be presented to the VisitScotland board for approval next week. The scheme has very strong destination and sector support and it would be concerning if a UK wide scheme was not implemented in Scotland.

STA Response to Advisory Group on Economic Recovery (AGER): The STA submitted a response to the AGER on 29th May. It was noted that there was a good number of contributors to the response and contributions ranged from granular local level ideas to strategic, national ideas. An initial presentation by the AGER to the Scottish Government will take place w/c 8th June. The final presentation will be at the end of June.

The STA submitted a response to the AGER on 29th May. It was noted that there was a good number of contributors to the response and contributions ranged from granular local level ideas to strategic, national ideas. An initial presentation by the AGER to the Scottish Government will take place w/c 8th June. The final presentation will be at the end of June.

Scotland Outlook 2030 – COVID-19 Overlay: A temporary STERG sub-group was set up with agency and industry representatives, to conduct a preliminary assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on Scotland Outlook 2030. This assessment was requested by the AGER and was submitted with the STA response on 29th May.

The detailed findings from the assessment (which reviewed our Commitments and our Actions) will now inform the further development of the STERG Action Plan.

STERG Action Plan: The STERG Action Plan should be reviewed and the status updated regularly to ensure that it remains a live document. The STERG will approve any updates and changes at the weekly meeting. 

The STERG sub-group which has been set up to manage the Action Plan will meet regularly to ensure the ongoing development of the plan. There are three strands of work which will feed into these meetings 1. A review by Toposophy of all content generated for the AGER submissions (STA response and Outlook 2030 assessment). 2. Light touch scenario work which the Scottish Government are leading on and which the Tourism Consultants Network will contribute towards. 3. Output from the Ewan Mearns (SE) scenario planning work.

It was noted that the STERG Action Plan will be a key document for the new Recovery Task Force and therefore it was essential that it should reflect all of the work that is going on.

The STERG Action Plan is a 4 phased plan which has been running from March 2020 until December 2022 and is intended to RESPOND to current issues, to support the sector to RESET and prepare for reopening once lockdown restrictions are eased, to support the sector to RESTART ensuring a safe reopening which is compliant and finally to look at how the sector may RECOVER.

Tourism & Hospitality businesses need as much notice as possible to reopen, for some they could require 2-3 weeks to get ready if they need to for example reinstate and train the workforce, reactivate the supply chain etc. Clarity on dates would greatly help.

It was reiterated in the meeting that no dates have been set by the Scottish Government for the reopening of Tourism & Hospitality business. The Route Map gives an indication of which phase certain types of businesses may be able to open. In phase 2 “Pubs and restaurants can open outdoor spaces with physical distancing and increased hygiene routines”. However, for most Tourism & Hospitality businesses it will be phase 3 before they can open. It was highlighted that the 18th June, which is the date for the next review, has been mistakenly taken as the start of phase 2, this is not the case. The date for moving into phase 2 has still to be confirmed.

The target publication date for the Scottish Government Tourism & Hospitality guidelines is 18th June.

Funding Packages Update: The Enterprise Agencies are continuing to work through all applications for the PERF and Hardship funds as quickly as possible and continue to deal with enquiries from businesses which range from technical system issues to the reasons why an application has been declined.
 The Enterprise Agencies are keen to work with businesses who have been unsuccessful in their applications to see what other support is available, however this process may take time.

An update on the Destination and Sector Support fund was provided. - 99 applications were received from destinations and sectors all across Scotland. - All applications have been processed. - Offers will be made to successful applicants by 5th June - For those applicants who have not been successful an explanation as to why the application was rejected will be provided. An appeal process is in place.

Partner Updates: Community reassurance continues to be highlighted as a concern. Tourism businesses and destinations are keen to align with communities on reopening. It would be beneficial to get more of an understanding of this. The intelligence being gathered by VisitScotland on community sentiment is currently being updated and will be shared with STERG.

Skills Development Scotland: The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on modern apprentices is seriously concerning and there are many discussions taking place to look at how this can be addressed. SDS have launched funding support for training providers to prevent them from business failure.

VisitScotland: The VisitScotland Comms team is working closely with the Scottish Government Tourism team on communications around the guidance for hygiene and restarting.

The STERG Action Plan has been downloaded 1,500 times.

Scottish Government: The Scottish Government continue to look at the budget and the best use of the consequentials to address the funding gaps in the sector. A call is taking place on 4th June with Ms Forbes, Ms Hyslop and Mr Ewing to discuss.

Scottish Tourism Alliance: The most recent STA Council meeting took place on Tuesday 2nd June and was attended by Cabinet Secretary, Mr Ewing.

The UK Visitor Economy Working Group met yesterday at which the updated Visitor Economy draft guidance and the Hotels and Accommodation guidance, put forward by DCMS, were discussed and agreed in principle. It is understood that the target date for publishing Scotland’s guideline is 18th June.

A meeting is scheduled on 4th June with Ian Stewart MP, the newly appointed minister at the Scotland Office.

Thursday 28 May | key notes and actions

Scottish Government Route Map: A meeting of the economy ministers will take place on 29 May focused on Restart and Recovery. A phased plan for Restart, (with proposed timings) and based on the Scottish Government route map, will be presented at this meeting. A number of unanswered questions from industry were raised regarding the route map and it was made clear that the STERG group will be working with the Scottish Government to provide answers.

VisitEngland’s “Good to Go” Scheme: It has been confirmed that Visit England are no longer developing a kite mark for compliance with industry guidelines, instead, an online selfcertification
is proposed with a backup call centre facility.

In Scotland the guidelines will have a Scottish flavour even although they are UK wide standards and will be backed up by spot checks. Initial thinking has been shared with ASSC, UKH, ASVA and Wild Scotland. Details of how the scheme could be set up in Scotland and how it could be funded is to be agreed, further information will be shared when available.

STERG Action Plan: The STERG Action Plan was published by VisitScotland on Tuesday 26 May and has been shared and
supported by all STERG members.

So far there have been 2,000 views of the Plan and 500 downloads.
Initial feedback has indicated that the Plan has been received positively and has helped to address a number of questions.

It has also been acknowledged that the Plan continues to be work in progress. It is proposed that the Plan is reviewed and updated w/c 8th June by the working group when it is expected that the initial light touch scenario planning work will be available.

An announcement will be made by the Scottish Government on 10 June about the Tourism task force which will drive the Recovery phase of the Plan.

Funding Packages Update: The demand for both the Pivotal Enterprises Resilience Fund and the Creative, Tourism & Hospitality
Enterprises Hardship Fund has been significant. All attention is now focussed on the process of appraising, approving and making offers to successful applicants. It was noted however that money is
flowing through the system.

In response to the large number of applicants who have been unsuccessful in their application and to address the lack of feedback being received by the applicants, additional resource has now been
allocated to manage this.

A survey has been issued by STA, UKH, SLTA, ASVA and SBPA asking businesses with a rateable value >£51k how they performed in the funds that they applied for. Findings will be presented back to the
Tourism Minister, government and agency officials on 2 June.

It was highlighted that the process was supposed to take 10 days and we are now approaching the end of the month when businesses will need to pay rent, payroll etc, many businesses would have beenexpecting to have the money by now in order to meet their commitments.

A possible phase 3 of funding is being discussed with the Cabinet Secretary, at this point there are no details available.

An update on the Destination and Sector Support fund was provided.
- 98 applications were received from destinations and sectors all across Scotland.
- All applications have been processed.
- Offers will be made to successful applicants w/c 1st June
- Applicants who have not been successful will be notified w/c 1st June. An explanation as to why the application was rejected will be provided. An appeal process is in place.

Enterprise Agencies: Current focus is processing the applications received for the Pivotal Enterprises Resilience Fund and the
Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund.

Business Gateway: Primary focus is administering the government support schemes. A COSLA special interest group has been set up to look at the role of local government moving forward
and what should change.

Skills Development Scotland:  A new report, ‘Keep Scotland Working’, is due to be published in the next couple of weeks. The report is a discussion paper which will propose a possible framework of actions to inform skills and learning policy
and supports the four stage economic plan (the four ‘r’s).

Scottish Tourism Alliance: The next STA Council meeting will take place on Tuesday 2 June and will be attended by Cabinet
Secretary, Mr Ewing. The STA submission to the Independent Advisory Group on Economic Recovery is awaiting final STA
Board approval.

The Scotland Outlook 2030 COVID-19 Overlay, (as requested by the Advisory Group), will accompany the STA submission. A draft has been circulated to the STERG working group for comments and approval.

Thursday 21 May | key notes and actions

STERG National Action Plan: the Action Plan is an evolving document and will continue to be informed by the latest data, insights and government updates. The Restart phase will be a particular area of focus. The First Minister’s announcement set out a route map with a number of different phases which will be triggered by the ongoing review of the R number. Tourism is still aggregated together and there is a priority action to make recommendations to the Cabinet Secretary on what a phased reopening of the sector may look like.

The plan is now live here on VisitScotland.org.

Preparing for opening: The “UKH Covid-19 recovery protocols”, which is a set of industry led standards and protocols to ensure the safe reopening for both staff and customers, has now been put forward to the UK and Scottish Government. This document is intended as a guide to businesses to prepare their own risk assessments and operational plans.  It was noted that good progress is being made in the outdoor sector with many sub sector bodies collaborating to produce a set of recommendations. The challenge continues to be timing and having sight of a possible timeline.

Scenario planning: It has been agreed that a set of light touch scenarios will be available by the first week of June to further inform the continued development of the STERG Action Plan. It was also agreed that this will be developed further afterwards, (e.g. 12-18 month / 3-5 year).

Funding packages update: Both the Pivotal Enterprises Resilience Fund and the Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund are now closed. A significant volume of applications were received for both and the focus is on turning around the appraisals as quickly as possible. There will be a good number of tourism businesses who will be successful, however there will also be a large percentage not successful. For those businesses, a follow up process will be communicated and this can be found on findbusinesssupport.

Grant applications through the local authorities: c. 82,000 applications received, c. 65,000 grants awarded and c. £741 million awarded. The Destination and Sector Support fund had 65 applications – announcement w/c 1 June.

Business Gateway: A number of mental health webinars for business owners, managers and employees have been held this week reflecting Mental Health Week. Beginning to see start-up activity.

Skills Development Scotland: Support continues for the expanded Careers information, Advice and Guidance resources which are available to support people whose work or learning has been impacted by COVID-19. Focus shifting to feeding in ideas for longer term support.

Scottish Tourism Alliance: continuing to push for financial support for businesses who have not been eligible for any funding packages. Recent announcements of significant redundancies in the sector will be accentuated further if no dates are available for reopening.

VisitScotland: Work is continuing to track community sentiment across all regions of Scotland. Analysis so far is very good and is providing a good snapshot of what communities are saying.

Thursday 14 May | key notes and actions

Scenario planning: The Scottish Government team advised that due to the substantive nature of the scenario planning work that has been requested by STERG, additional time would be required to complete it. An estimated delivery date would be June for the 12-18 month scenarios.

National Action Plan: reviewing and updating the four phases of the Action Plan - Respond, Reset, Restart and Recover. The need to share the Plan as soon as possible was discussed and it was agreed the latest version would be reviewed at the next STERG meeting on 21 May with a view to publishing soon after. The Plan is a live evolving document and will be reviewed / updated on an ongoing basis. The next full review will take place w/c 1 June.

Destination and sector support: The closing date for applications is Friday 22 May. So far 39 applications have been received.

Preparing for opening: there is still a desire to take a UK wide approach. UK Hospitality has developed an extensive set of industry led protocols to ensure the safe reopening for both staff and customers. The final proposal, which are intended as a guide to businesses on which to prepare their own risk assessments and operational plans, will be presented to the UKH board for sign off on the 15 May and then to the UK government and Scottish Government w/c 18 May.

The industry sectors included cover, Hotels & Accommodation, Pubs & Bars, Cafes & Coffee Shops, Quick Service Restaurants, Food Service, Late Night Venues and Visitor Attractions. If approved, this could be seen as the blueprint which is adopted UK wide. VisitScotland will support with the communication of the new protocols once approved by government and the Health & Safety Executive and will look to create an industry friendly version.

Community concerns: there are communities who are not yet ready to welcome visitors. There is concern as to whether community sentiment is being taken into account when industry or Scottish Government guidelines are being issued for reopening? The group agreed any guidance issued should be accompanied by a supporting communication which clearly highlights that communities are one of the key considerations when planning to reopen.

Funding packages update: The Pivotal Enterprises Resilience Fund and the Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund will close on Monday 18 May. An update on grant applications through the local authorities was provided. c. 78,000 applications received, c. 59,000 grants awarded and c. £679 million awarded.

Scottish Government: The Scottish Government informed the group that there are currently three core work streams underway tasked at looking at recovery 1. Economic Recovery (which the National Recovery Advisory Group is aligned to), 2. Green Recovery 3. Renew Project.

Skills Development Scotland: Launch of expanded Careers information, Advice and Guidance resources to support people whose work or learning has been impacted by COVID-19. PACE toolkit launched to raise awareness of redundancy support.

Scottish Tourism Alliance: The media have picked up on the announcement from the UK Government on the creation of UK Task Forces and are asking if the Scottish Government will have equivalent Task Forces. The Food Tourism Board is restructuring to provide a tighter recovery working group to work on an action plan. Recent conversations have highlighted that as lockdown restrictions begin to relax the importance of achieving a balance between trying to optimise outdoor spaces for the provision of hospitality experiences whilst being sensitive to landowners and communities will be critical.

VisitScotland: On Tuesday 12 May Riddell Graham led the first in a series of VisitScotland webinars. The first webinar focused on the recovery of tourism. There were many questions asked during the webinar however the top 3 areas of concern were, Training, Cleaning & Hygiene and Communities. The complete Q&A document and film can be found on VisitScotland.org.

Thursday 7 May | key notes and actions

Scenario planning: update on the scenario planning proposal, outlining a draft framework and a set of outcomes. It is proposed the first high level analysis will be available at the end of May.

VisitScotland industry survey: the preference would be to collate and analyse the results from the many industry surveys that are going on right now before going ahead and issuing a further industry survey.

STERG Action Plan: the next review of the STERG Restart & Recover plan would be at the end of May. In the meantime it was agreed that all partners would review the latest version of the Action Plans and update as appropriate.

Independent Advisory Group on Economic Recovery: STA met to hear the groups brief and its invitation to industry to come forward with radical ideas that would kick start and accelerate economic recovery through Tourism in a post COVID-19 world (2021 and beyond). The Advisory Group will present their findings and recommendations at the end of June to the First Minister and therefore the STA have agreed to provide a coordinated response by 28 May.

Destination and sector support: VisitScotland COVID-19 Destination and Sector Support Fund launched. The fund provides financial help to tourism destination and sector organisations across Scotland. Over £400,000 is available. Closing date for applications is Friday 22 May.

Preparing for opening: An industry meeting was held on 6 May to discuss what “coming out of lockdown” will mean for business operations and the customer, primarily in terms of guidance for social distancing, cleaning and hygiene. 6 industry representatives attended as well as representatives from STA, Scottish Government, VisitScotland and COSLA.

There is clearly a lot of guidance out there being developed, and which can be drawn on. The ideal would be to collate existing materials and put together a coordinated Scottish proposal to take to the Scottish Government for sign off. There was a clear consensus from the meeting that a UK wide approach was the recommended way forward.

Funding packages update: the Pivotal Enterprises Resilience Fund on hold until w/c 11 May, however the Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprise Hardship Fund remains open. The eligibility criteria for the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund is deemed to have too many restrictions and caveats. Applications for multiple property grants through the Local Authorities, opens 5 May 2020. The additional £617 million grant support announced by the UK Government, should result in c. £60 million in consequentials for Scotland. There is currently no firm plan on what the £60 million will be used for in Scotland.

Community Concerns over exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) from visitors: VisitScotland, HIE and STA are all receiving reports from tourism businesses about negative community sentiment. Destinations are doing what they can do to manage this however there is a need for additional support.

Thursday 30 April | key notes and actions

STERG National Action Plan: The group discussed and agreed that a small sub group should be set up to develop the Restart & Recover sections of the Action Plan at pace.

Scenario planning: Broad parameters discussed. The purpose is to consider the implications of different options on Scottish tourism that may apply once we move out of the recovery stage. The scenarios should also identify and inform potential future market failure or opportunity within the sector and finally should help inform policy / future interventions. The scenarios will aim to inform a very broad range of activity form granular interventions to the national tourism strategy, Scotland Outlook 2030.

VisitScotland industry survey: The group discussed whether another industry survey should be run in May. Agreed there would be value, however questions should be revised. Concern raised that the industry was at risk of survey fatigue. Agreed there would be value in understanding the results from all of these surveys as it could inform the direction of the next VisitScotland survey.

Destination support: The eligibility of DMOs for either the Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund or the Pivotal Enterprises Resilience Fund was discussed. It was suggested that they should be eligible to apply to either however clarity required. It was noted they wouldn’t be able to apply for both. Future sustainability of DMOs is a key issue to be addressed, there is a need to understand how the STERG will feed into this discussion.

STERG members: Discussed value in extending membership of the STERG to representatives of other organisations. It was agreed there wasn’t a need for that, at this point in time, as the group had to remain tight to operate efficiently. However, there would be great value in inviting other representatives to become part of the sub groups who will develop the Action Plan.

Scottish Government £100 million Business Support Programme: grant support launched. Events identified as a potential gap as it doesn’t have a SIC code – work ongoing to resolve this.

Preparing for opening: a lot of work going on across a number of organisations to develop their own guidance for social distancing and for cleaning and hygiene. Concern that if it’s not coordinated, it will lead to overlap, duplication and confusion.

Industry update: The STA, in partnership with a number of other trade bodies, are putting forward a case to the Treasury for the support of businesses with a Rateable Value >£51,000. The ‘hibernation’ costs being incurred by c.2,400 businesses in Scotland are significant and these businesses need to be protected if they are to survive.

Skills Development Scotland: New online learning portal for furlough workers now available. Ramped up PACE service now live.

Enterprise Agencies (SoSE / HIE / SE): New ‘Tune into Tourism’ podcasts from HIE will start on 8 May and run for 4 weeks - easily digestible platform for topical news and discussion, focusing on the recovery of the tourism industry across Scotland. The Communities fund being administered by HIE has now approved 114 applications and awarded c.£2.5 million. The focus of this fund is to support communities impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Business Gateway: 76,000 grant applications have been received by local authorities, 45,000 grants were awarded and £526 million has been awarded.

Thursday 23 April | key notes and actions

STERG National Action Plan: Phase 1 Respond and Phase 2 Reset were both approved for publication. The Response & Reset Action Plan was made live on VisitScotland.org on Friday 24 April and shared by all partners. It was agreed further work was required on Phase 3 Restart and Phase 4 Recover. In the first instance the group should review the existing plan and consider the additional content required for discussion at the next STERG meeting on 30 April.

Communication: It was agreed that VisitScotland is the main channel for STERG communications with all partners sharing content.

Scenario planning: It was noted that the current Social Distancing survey which the STA is collating and the responses to the Pathways to Recovery consultation will provide industry insight. The importance of ensuring that all the dots are joined in the scenario planning / recovery work was highlighted. The Scottish Government confirmed that the scenario planning work will dovetail into the work being done by others e.g. National Recovery Advisory Group. Paul McCafferty confirmed that following further discussions with the Scottish Tourism Consultants Network, a new proposal was being prepared in response to the STERG requirements.

Support for destinations: Two papers were circulated to STERG, a summary of the results from the Destinations / Sectors survey and based on those survey results, a draft proposal of support options for these organisations. The Group agreed that long term sustainability also needed to be considered however that should be done in the context of a very different future tourism landscape.

New funding package: General feedback from the STA Council meeting on 22nd April was that the additional support was welcomed, however the reality is that there is only a limited pot to go around. It was suggested and agreed that a simple, factual Q&A document be pulled together and issued by the STERG outlining the financial packages that are available and who is eligible to apply for them. This will provide transparency of the support being made available. Clarity on the eligibility of Events for these funds is required.

Preparing for reopening: The Scottish Government advised that the First Minister was publishing initial thoughts on social distancing. It was noted that this wasn’t yet at sector level however the SG tourism team are keen to work with STERG / industry to draft these. The responses from a Social Distancing survey sent by the STA are now being consolidated for submission to the Tourism Industry Council.

Thursday 16 April | key notes and actions

STERG National Action Plan: It was agreed that the Action Plan be revised into four phases to mirror the language being used with the Scottish Government, the Enterprise agencies and other sectors of the economy. 1. Respond 2. Reset 3. Restart 4. Recover.

Scenario planning: The Scottish Government explained that the scenario planning in this instance was focused on informing the longer-term recovery. It was agreed that once the initial conversations with the various individuals / organisations who have offered support have taken place, a proposal should be put forward to the STERG.

Restart phase: The group discussed the RESTART phase and it was acknowledged that there was much uncertainty around the timing of this and what it could potentially look like.

Scottish Government update - additional Support for Business: confirmed there was a lot of detail to be worked through and that this will be forthcoming over the next few days, however at the moment it’s still work in progress. Acknowledged the frustration and advised that work was progressing at speed to provide the detail required.

VisitScotland update - support for Destination Organisations and Sector Groups: issued a survey to 65 organisations with the purpose of understanding the scale of the impact being felt by these organisations. Survey closed on 15 April with 38 responses. The group agreed that there were two clear needs to be addressed: 1. The immediate response to ensure survival and 2. The longer-term sustainability issue. Analysis of the responses will take place over the next few days and results and initial recommendations shared at next STERG meeting.

Industry update from STA: STA Council meeting held 14 April, minutes available on STA website. Regarding the Scottish Government announcement outlining a further £220 million support, there’s been a lot of positivity, however it’s critical the criteria for the application process is quickly detailed and shared. The extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme cut-off date is welcomed but there’s still issues. Many businesses still waiting for cash to flow through the system, it’s hoped furlough payments, due at the end of April, will help. Big outstanding question around planning for recovery and many businesses have highlighted the need for the government to give as much notice as possible so they can start to plan.

Business Gateway update: On 6 April 50,000 grant applications had been received by local authorities, 10,000 had been processed, 7,500 were approved and received grants, the remaining were either on hold or rejected. Of the 7,500 grants awarded £88.6 million went out into the local economies. Concern across the Business Gateway network is clarity on the guidance.

Skills Development Scotland: A recent update was issued widely on the Skills Development Scotland response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. My World of Work Job Hub continues to develop daily. Currently looking at whether PACE requires a sector specific response.

Enterprise Agencies (SoSE / HIE / SE): SoSE working on possible grant options to support anyone who is continuing to fall through the gaps in the government support packages that are available. HIE working with the Scottish Government on the Rural Communities fund and on the Rural & Island Recovery approach. Continuing business support and data and intelligence gathering.

Thursday 9 April | key notes and actions

VisitScotland COVID-19 Tourism Industry Survey: The next survey will be run at the end of April at the earliest to give time for funding to flow to businesses. Arrangements will be made separately to accommodate medium and large businesses by working closely with STA. The objectives of the next survey, and the questions, still need to be agreed.

Industry update from the STA: The STA Council meeting with the Cabinet Secretary was held on 8 April and the minute from the meeting captures the latest industry situation. No further update.
It was also discussed whether the STERG should submit a Scottish Tourism response to the new House of Commons inquiry, ‘Impact of COVID-19 on DCMS sectors’.

Support for Destination Organisations and Sector Groups: A survey was sent to 65 organisations with the purpose of understanding the scale of the impact being felt be these organisations. The survey will close on Wednesday 15 April. Results and recommended actions will be shared as soon as possible.

Business Gateway: £50,000 grant applications have been received by local authorities, several thousand have now been processed and tens of millions has gone out into the local economies.

Skills Development Scotland: There has been a focus on individual support through online and remote solutions. Continuing to data gather to inform responses.

Enterprise Agencies (SE / HIE / SoSE): Focus continues to be on the coronavirus (COVID-19)response. Reviewing budget allocations to divert to coronavirus (COVID-19)response. Helpline working effectively and continues to receive a high volume of calls. Continues data and intelligence gather. HIE in contact with all Account managed accounts to get an understanding of the impacts being felt and how support is being accessed.

VisitScotland: All communications are being welcomed by businesses. Continuing to see correspondence from people who are still falling through the support gap. Generally people are pleased to be getting the information, however some are still not getting the information and support that they want.

STERG National Action Plan: The draft STERG Action Plan was reviewed and all required changes were noted and summarised in the Plan document.

It was agreed the following two points should be kept in mind:

  • We don’t lose connection with the new national tourism strategy, Scotland Outlook 2030
  • Does the plan respond at the level of scale required given the devastating impact that coronavirus (COVID-19) could have on the sector.

The intention was to share the plan widely after the 9 April meeting however this has been postponed to allow for further amends.

The current draft of the action plan is split into three phases, REACT, STABILISE & RECOVER. Consideration to be given to RESPOND, RESET, RESTART, RECOVER which may be used by other sectors of the economy. Scottish Government to advise on language being used by the economy team. STERG to adopt the same language.

Thursday 2 April meeting | key notes and actions

VisitScotland coronavirus (COVID-19) Tourism Industry Survey: Wave 2: results published. It was agreed that the report provides an excellent picture of the current industry situation which can inform the Scottish and UK Governments. It was agreed that the survey should continue. Survey questions will eb reviewed and we will prepare a new proposal for agreement by the STERG.

Industry Update from STA: priority issues for industry | tourism businesses that currently fall between the gap of support already announced. There are still a variety of tourism businesses who are unable or eligible to benefit from Government support packages. | Self-employment support allowance. A number of different tourism operators still need consideration and clarity on the criteria for this scheme. | The need for flexibility of furlough within the Job Retention Scheme is a necessity. | Scotland’s Self-catering businesses. Concerns around the eligibility criteria for access to the Grant Funding Scheme for self-caterers in particular the definition of the income criteria.

Enterprise Agencies (Scottish Enterprise / Highlands & Islands Enterprise): Organisation focus is coronavirus (COVID-19) response. Helpline working effectively and continues to receive a high volume of calls. Continued data and intelligence gathering. Consistent messaging and signposting to Findbusinesssupport.gov.uk. SE continuing to facilitate peer to peer support, e.g. DLP, Agritourism and a new Glasgow platform. Transferring services online where appropriate. Engaging with partners and stakeholders to ensure a collaborative response.

Skills Development Scotland: Developing a tailored online and telephone advice and guidance service for individuals impacted by the crisis. Re-deploying staff to support the PACE redundancy service. New web facility launched for people who have lost their job due to COVID-19, and employers who wish to recruit. It will match people who have lost work with jobs in sectors currently in need of staff. Developing a real time dashboard on the impact of COVID-19. Engaging with partners to gather insight. Responding to companies in distress.

VisitScotland: Industry facing staff moving from reactive phase to proactive phase speaking directly to businesses. Concern raised that there are some businesses not aware of the sources of advice or support available. Providing marketing support and advice to destination and sector organisations as appropriate. Ongoing concerns around events industry being expressed by the Events Directorate – SG following up directly.

Managing Issues, Concerns and Support Requirements from Tourism Businesses: to continue an effective dialogue between industry and government STERG must issue guidance to Sector and Destination organisations on the most effective way to capture and represent input from industry.

STERG National Action Plan: a revised version of the Action Plan was circulated to the STERG in advance of the meeting. It was agreed that further work was required to ensure all actions are robust, clear and concise with lead organisations identified. The intention is to share the plan widely after the next STERG meeting on 9 April.

Support for Destination Organisations and Sector Groups: VisitScotland shared a draft paper which looks at addressing the need for developing a Destination/Sector organisation support package as part of a coordinated public sector response to coronavirus (COVID-19). All agreed that this should be explored further.

Thursday 26 March meeting | key notes and actions

VisitScotland COVID-19 Tourism Industry Survey: Wave two ends at 12noon on Monday 30 March.

Industry Update From STA: The most significant shift in the last 24 hours has been the impact of OTA cancellations and refunds activity, on businesses cash availability (e.g. Booking.com). Cabinet Secretary Mr Ewing and government officials have been briefed on this issue and will feed into government discussions.

STA highlighted priority issues were outlined: Urgent clarity sought on furlough, support for the self-employed, access to grants for the self-catering sector, signposting the new job matching portal and encouraging organisations to register, rules on closure need to be clear, accessibility of bank loans for businesses and immediate access to cash. All priorities have been raised directly with the Cabinet Secretary Mr Ewing, Ministers and government officials.

VisitScotland update: concern raised that some organisations may be falling through the gaps for example, exclusive use venues and tour operators and that their needs therefore are not being met. Scottish Government are aware of a number of groups where support is either not clear or not there and are pushing for immediate solutions. There have been a number of issues raised around the Events & Festivals sector – this has been forwarded to the Scottish Government team.

Skills Development Scotland update: All services are online. Resource to support PACE is being increased. Web site is being kept up to date to support employers, employees and training providers. Work is being undertaken across all sectors to gauge the impact and what it will mean for the economy and skills in the future. Looking at how they can support sectors who need staff. The SDS Digital team are creating a job site portal - it is recognised this shouldn’t duplicate existing job site platforms but should complement.

Scottish Enterprise update: Helpline working well. Support mechanisms are coming into place for call handlers, account managers and project managers to signpost businesses to. Continued tourism engagement with account managers and project managers. Facilitating peer to peer support.

Highlands & Islands Enterprise update: Currently receiving high volumes of information, which is being analysed to understand the key issues. The core script which is being used across multiple agencies should include VisitScotland.

South of Scotland Enterprise Agency update: Particular concerns raised around Self-Catering and further clarity on furlough.

Business Gateway update: all business support has been moved online, (Skype calls, workshops, webinars, tutorials). Business support signposted on local authority websites and Business Gateway. Self-Catering eligibility is a major concern.

Communication: VisitScotland.org is updated daily with the latest information on COVID-19.There have been 150,000 visitors to the site. All STERG members to continue to keep signposting Mental Health support through their communication channels.

STERG National Action Plan: it was agreed that the DRAFT Plan, which currently contains all activity being undertaken by STERG members, now needs to be refined to ensure that it’s focused on actions which are adding value. It will be a public document that can be shared and continually evolve. Follow up meeting to take place following the STERG meeting to agree how the plan will be refined.

Overarching message is that all activity by STERG members will be focused on supporting businesses now.

Week commencing 23 March | streamlined approach

STERG was slimmed down to a core group made up of the STA, Scottish Government, HIE, SE, SoSE, Skills Development Scotland, Business Gateway and VisitScotland. Our Director of Industry & Destination Development, Riddell Graham, will continue to chair the group.

This group will meet regularly, listen to industry concerns via the STA and other partners, agree actions and communications to and from industry and provide advice to the Cabinet Secretary. This approach, with a reduced membership, will enable a fleet of foot response at this stage in the crisis. The wider group of partners will be kept fully in touch with actions arising from these smaller, focused meetings.

As the main industry groups are members of the STA and/or sit on the STA Council, this will be the direct conduit for industry to raise questions, points of concern and receive STERG briefings. Additionally, there is a plan to carry out a mapping and gapping exercise to make sure any sector not within the STA family is properly included and has a voice.

On transport we’re liaising directly with Transport Scotland who have an overview of ferries, buses, trains, airport and airlines.

The events sector is hugely significant and event partners, including Festivals Edinburgh, are keeping in touch with VisitScotland’s Events Directorate and this information is being shared with the STERG chair.

Tuesday 17 March | first meeting round-up

  • Massive threat facing our industry
  • What can we do collectively to face the challenges?
    • Needs of the industry
    • Asks of the Government
    • What actions can be deployed? 
  • Need to discuss and agree the immediate, medium and longer term (recovery plan) actions
  • Repeat industry research led by VisitScotland, adapting some questions. Agreement that one survey should be conducted to ensure as high a response as possible.
  • Continuation of lobbying by the trade bodies.
  • Need for joined up communication across the group.


Overview of industry feedback on 17 March

  • The situation is changing continuously with a big shift over the last day
  • Much of the industry are having to make very difficult decisions about whether they need to reduce staffing hours, operating hours, whether they need to lay-off staff or close completely
  • There is a huge concern about how long businesses can last with such little business. Reserves are extremely low and it’s a matter of weeks and not months for many.
  • The industry feels that what they need is some relief in terms of bills such as rates and PAYE and also access to money.
  • This is impacting all businesses, not just the small ones.
  • Insurance companies not responding to business interruption clauses as businesses not being told to close
  • We need to escalate the awareness of the impact this is having.

Remit of the group

  • Provide a forum for consistent and comprehensive pan-Scotland analysis of the implications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on tourism
  • Act as the one-stop-shop communications channel for the Scottish tourism industry in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • Ensure close working between VisitScotland, the Scottish Government, the Scottish tourism industry, health authorities and other relevant organisations and agencies
  • Gather, share, facilitate, interpret and disseminate information as it becomes available
  • Issue agreed messages to the industry and the media
  • Offer business continuity advice to industry
  • Agree relevant action and allocate responsibilities for this

Attending the first meeting: Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA) | Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterer’s (ASSC) | Scottish destination management association (SDMA) | Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) | UK Hospitality | Lochaber Chamber of Commerce | Outer Hebrides Tourism | Wild Scotland | Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park | Edinburgh Airport | Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) | Business Gateway | Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) | South of Scotland Enterprise (SoSE) | Scottish Enterprise (SE) | Scottish Development International (SDI) | Scottish Government | VisitScotland