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Coronavirus / Wishart backs idea of tourism support plan

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart. Photo: Shetland News

SHETLAND MSP Beatrice Wishart has backed calls for the tourism and hospitality sector to be given a special support plan to help businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic.

It follows her party the Liberal Democrats tabling a motion at Westminster for a 12-month financial support package for the industry through to the summer of 2021.

Wishart raised the issue at the Scottish Parliament today (Thursday), highlighting that tourism businesses may not last longer than three months without support.

She asked tourism secretary Fergus Ewing if the Scottish Government had given thought to a 12-month support package.

Ewing recognised the difficulties faced by the industry but said the idea of a year-long package had not been considered yet.

Commenting afterwards, Wishart noted that local companies are likely to miss out on the 2020 tourist season, causing a significant financial impact.

“In Shetland the tourism season is shorter compared to other areas of the UK,” she said.

“It looks increasingly likely that any exit from lockdown and safe re-opening of tourism and hospitality businesses could be during the low season. Without financial support to tide them over, that could be the nail in the coffin for many businesses.

“In Shetland, like elsewhere in Scotland, earnings from tourism during the spring and summer months sustains people through the winter and it is a real worry that coronavirus hit just when the visitor season was starting.

“It is clear that a 12-month plan, at least, is needed to ensure that viable businesses can survive to provide a living for their owners and be ready to safely welcome visitors again when the time is right.”