£14m Hotel Recovery Programme welcomed in Scotland, but warnings from experts remain

A £14m hotel recovery programme has been announced by the Scottish government in a bid to help support the tourism industry until next summer.

The package has been designed to secure up to 3,000 jobs in large hotels throughout the winter season, with eligible businesses being able to apply for individual grants of up to £250,000.

VisitScotland has also announced it will provide £1m in grants to self-catering businesses which are unable to receive any other government support. Companies which meet the criteria will be eligible for a one-off grant of £10,000.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said of the hotel recovery programme: “Its core purpose will be to protect larger hotels, which have been badly affected by the events of the recent months.

“This is also about looking forward and successful applicants will be offered wraparound support to help strengthen their companies for the future.”

Concerns for the hotel industry remain

While news of the programme was warmly received, experts have warned that it won’t be enough in the long term. There are still fears that without other forms of longer-term support in the future, many hotels in Scotland will remain at risk of being forced to shut their doors permanently, resulting in thousands of people losing their jobs.

Current industry figures suggest the hotel sector supports around 46,000 jobs in Scotland.

Willie Macleod, UKHospitality’s executive director for Scotland, said: “The reality is that any programme of recovery intended to keep hotels in Scotland open and staff in jobs, will need to be much bigger and much more wide-ranging.

“It must be hoped that this is an initial step in supporting these businesses and that further resources will be made available in the likely event that the programme is over-subscribed.”

Only 5% of hotels will be supported

UKHospitality estimates that approximately 950 large hotels in Scotland did not qualify for grants which were made available to smaller businesses during the COVID-19 lockdown. As such, they had to meet their average monthly expenses themselves – which in some cases totals £60,000 – despite being shut for the majority of the spring season.

The group has also warned that a budget of £14m will only cover 50 businesses, just 5% of the large hotels in Scotland. Macleod added: “This is not enough to avert the crisis facing the sector.”

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