MOST of Scotland’s visitor attractions still have “survival” and not “recovery” as their priority, with a “staffing crisis caused by Brexit” compounding challenges arising from a lack of international visitors, a key survey shows.
The latest survey of Scotland’s visitor attractions also signals there has been “no staycation boom” for the sector, with more than half of it not yet fully open.
Conducted on behalf of the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions by Glasgow Caledonian University’s Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Development, the survey shows the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to “devastate the sector”.
Only 48.1 per cent of the sector is currently fully open.
More than one in ten attractions remain closed. And a further 40.9% are operating with reduced hours or limited facilities “because of the impacts of both the pandemic and Brexit”.
ASVA chief executive Gordon Morrison said: “The pandemic has had a truly devastating impact on Scotland’s visitor attractions and these latest results provide further evidence that this impact is still very much being felt. I cannot emphasise strongly enough that, despite a number of media reports to the contrary, there’s been no ‘staycation boom’ or widespread economic recovery for our sector this year, and we face a very challenging winter period ahead. With very few international visitors and restrictive regulations that severely limited viable trading throughout the spring and summer, the window of opportunity to trade successfully has been extremely limited and, as a result we’re still concerned about the survival, not the recovery, of much of our sector as we move into the off-season.”
Professor John Lennon, director of the Moffat Centre at GCU, said: “Tourism like many other industries in Scotland has been hugely impacted by the loss of EU workers as a direct consequence of Brexit. The ability to adequately and safely staff operations has become the next insurmountable challenge.”
More than 180 organisations representing 353 individual attractions took part in what was the first survey of attractions since the majority of restrictions were lifted across the country and Scotland moved to “‘beyond Level 0”.
Mr Morrison said: “Gordon Morrison added: “Despite the economic challenges they face, the number one priority for attractions continues to be keeping staff and visitors safe. They have maintained the very highest standards of safety throughout the pandemic; this hasn’t changed even as restrictions have been eased. The fact that over 90% of the sector continues to operate with measures above and beyond those required by law demonstrates its ongoing commitment to ‘stopping the spread’ in Scotland – even when that can be, and often is, to the detriment of business performance.
“Now more than ever, our sector – which is so important to our country’s £11bn tourism industry – desperately needs continued support from both the government and the public to survive and make it through what will be a very challenging winter period. We know that many attractions will be extending their season into the winter this year in an effort to recoup lost income, and I’d urge the people of Scotland and rest of the UK to get out and explore the wonderful and varied experiences they offer.”