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Business / Four in ten Highlands and Islands hospitality and tourism businesses struggling, survey suggests

Photo: Shetland News

A NEW study suggests the anticipated “staycation boom” did not happen in the Highlands and Islands as soon as travel restrictions were lifted, leaving four in ten tourism and hospitality businesses struggling.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) conducted a survey between 25 May and 4 June with tourism and hospitality businesses within the Highlands and Islands Enterprise area, which includes Shetland. It produced 290 responses.

Only 41 per cent of Shetland tourism and hospitality businesses who responded to the survey said they were doing “okay or better”. All other areas in the region had higher percentages.

A report on the study calls on the Scottish Government to commit to a range of actions including withdrawing the need for physical distancing and self-isolation once most of the adult population is fully vaccinated.

It also encourages the UK Government to pilot a remote visa for employers in the Highlands and Islands.

Federation of Small Businesses’ Highlands and Islands development manager David Richardson said: “While the ambition has always been for the Highlands and Islands to have a truly mixed economy, the fact is that most of this vast region is dependent, directly and indirectly, on tourism.

“It sustains jobs and communities, and without its rich array of businesses and services the quality of life that we all enjoy would be greatly diminished. Tourism is everyone’s business, and it is in all our interests that it succeeds.

“The fact that almost half of all tourism and hospitality businesses across the region are struggling is a matter of grave concern, and it’s no wonder that a quarter fear that they might not survive until 2022.”