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Business / Fifteen redundancies at hotel company

Shetland Hotel. Photo © Mike Pennington (cc-by-sa/2.0)

THE COMPANY which owns three hotels in Lerwick has made 15 staff redundant this week as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Brudolff Hotels managing director Robert Smith said he hoped to be able to re-employ some of them, “but I can’t see that before Easter 2021”.

The company runs the Lerwick, Shetland and Kveldsro hotels in Lerwick.

The hotel sector has been especially hard hit as a result of the pandemic with the 2020 tourist season likely to be wiped out.

Scottish tourism minister Fergus Ewing said this week that “we would encourage tourism and hospitality businesses to prepare – within appropriate safety guidelines – for re-opening on 15 July” – but this date may change.

Smith said it was a “difficult decision” to cut 15 jobs across the three hotels, but he said it was “necessary to ensure we look after the other 50 still employed by us in Lerwick”.

The hotel owner acknowledged there would be “no normality” in Shetland for the hotel and tourism trade for the foreseeable future.

“The 15th July re-opening is far too late to save even a small part of the tourist season in Shetland,” he said.

“We need to see a concerted effort by all to ensure 2021 is a bumper year to try to claw back some of the losses from 2020.

“It remains the case therefore that in Shetland, from a tourism perceptive, we face three winters in a row, and can only really plan from Easter 2021.”

Smith added that jobs being put at risk at the Moorfield Hotel in Brae as gas plant workers move to the Sella Ness accommodation facility highlights that “tourism is more important than ever for jobs in Shetland”.

He said he hoped that NorthLink and Loganair “will do what is needed to provide a service and ensure there is capacity” for those wishing to head north, particularly for people looking to travel within the UK in the second half of the season.

“I also hope that our MSP, and our MP, can do their bit in making positive noises about being open for business,” Smith added.

“They did their bit, rightly so, to discourage travel. Now we need to see if they understand the plight of the tourism industry in Shetland, and indeed of most industries at the moment, and put their shoulders behind the efforts needed to encourage UK travellers to have Shetland on their agenda.”

Brae Hotel owner Florence Troup, meanwhile, said that things are hard for her business at the moment.

The hotel has been up for sale for nearly two years.

“The Brae Hotel, just like the other hotels in North Mainland, is struggling,” Troup said.

“We have tried to think about what we could do when we are eventually allowed to re-open.”