MEMBERS CONTRIBUTE TO PLEA FOR SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT TO SUPPORT THE GOLF TOURISM SECTOR
Members of Scotland’s Golf Coast recently signed the following letter sent to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, urging the Scottish Government to support the Scottish golf tourism business.
Nicola Sturgeon MSP
The First Minister
The Scottish Government
St Andrew’s House
27th May 2020.
Dear First Minister,
We write to you as a group of leading Scottish golf tourism business professionals because we are increasingly concerned about the economic impact of COVID 19 on this vital part of the Scottish tourism industry. We are aware of similar written concerns expressed by UK Hospitality and by the Scottish Tourism Alliance.
All of us in this vital sector should be moving into the busiest part of our year but as the lockdown continues we see a clear and present threat to Scottish tourism both in the short and medium term. In short, if we are not able to operate profitably by the start of July then many of us will have no choice but to cease trading until next April, with sadly a number of businesses not even able to hold on until then.
The possible return of golf for members in the next few days is welcome but does little or nothing for tourism – apart from further the growing frustration amongst both players and businesses.
Golf tourism in Scotland is built on both domestic and international markets. The proposed two week quarantine period kills the global market dead. If imposed, we need a firm date when it will be lifted or told it is here till the end of the season to give our booked clients the chance to cancel thereby freeing space for local and domestic bookings on both the golf courses and in the hotels.
With the prospect of hotels, restaurants and golf clubs set to close and thousands of jobs potentially lost as a result we would ask for your assistance in a number of important areas:
We need a clearer timescale for full reopening.
Financial Support (Furlough, Business Rates & Grants)
Whilst the extension of the furlough scheme until 31st October is helpful, the loss of our entire season revenue makes payment of that money on its own unsustainable.
We understand the furlough scheme is not to be extended but many of us will have no income all Summer and will not be in a position to survive the Winter. We would ask that you give real consideration to some sort of support scheme for our businesses.
As far as business rates are convened, we would ask for a significant extension to rates relief, possibly up to five years for those in the market now.
We would urge you to develop a post COVID 19 Quality Assurance Scheme which is consumer friendly and allows businesses in our sector to reassure their customers about the steps that have been taken to protect them. We note that this has already been done in the USA and the EU allowing businesses to open and rebuild after lockdown.
We would ask you to support the UK wide initiatives already being looked at.
Air Passenger Duty
We note that in 2016 the SNP manifesto recognised that APD hampers Scottish tourism. In that manifesto you promised to halve the tax by April 2018 and scrap it “when resources allow”. Unlike many other European countries this onerous tax remains fully in force in Scotland.
We would suggest that, with businesses and jobs on the line, now is the time to prioritise the Scottish tourism industry and move ahead with the abolition of APD.
To help ease the journey back for those of us in the tourism industry, we want you to ask the UK Government for a permanent reduction in VAT for tourism businesses in line with the CUT TOURISM VAT initiative.
Our only aim is to get our vital sector back on track in July – to save businesses and save jobs. We know that this will not be easy but with Scottish Government support we will apply ourselves to the task with renewed commitment. The measures we suggest will allow our businesses to emerge from lockdown with the best opportunity to rebuild the Scottish tourism industry and, in time, our huge financial contribution to the Scottish economy.
Perhaps you could help us by facilitating a meeting with the relevant Cabinet Secretaries Fergus Ewing and Fiona Hislop.
We appreciate your consideration and await your response.
Andy Burgess – Meldrum House, Aberdeenshire
David Cockerton – Garleton Lodge, East Lothian
Seamus Coen – Rusacks Hotel, St Andrews
Malcolm Duck – Ducks Inn, East Lothian
Ian Ferguson – Dundonald Links, Ayrshire
Ken Goodwin – Prestwick Golf Club
Neil Hampton – Royal Dornoch Golf Club
Stuart McColm – Castle Stuart, Inverness
David Roy – Crail Golf Club, Fife
David Scott – Dumbarnie Links, Elie
Phil Scott – Links House Hotel, Dornoch
Gordon Simpson – Gullane Golf Club
Colin Sinclair – Nairn Golf Club