Destination and sector groups across Scottish tourism impacted by the coronavirus pandemic are set to receive a share in a £500,000 support package offered by VisitScotland.
A total of 81 membership organisations have been successful in applying for the Tourism Destination and Sector Support Fund, which was launched by the national tourism organisation last month.
Those successful applicants represent in excess of 10,000 tourism businesses and have been awarded grants to support their survival and ensure they are able to continue working with VisitScotland in the weeks and months ahead.
The one-off fund was created in response to the devasting impact of the pandemic on Scottish tourism and was open to all destination and sector groups that have a membership base made up of entirely, or predominantly, tourism businesses.
A total of 98 applications were received requesting a total of £1.6 million.
The fund, which closed on 22 May, was originally set at £400,000 but was increased to £500,000 due to the volume of requests.
Successful applicants could be awarded up to 50% of their membership income under threat due to coronavirus.
Those who failed to meet the eligibility criteria received a letter explaining why and were signposted to other sources of funding and support.
Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Fergus Ewing, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for Scotland’s tourism sector. Throughout, I have been engaging with businesses and listening to concerns to explore how we can best help them navigate this unprecedented crisis.
“We have a long way to go but this funding package will be a welcome boost for destination management organisations and sector groups.”
“It will enable them to keep working with VisitScotland, tourism businesses and local communities to build a strong and safe recovery, welcoming visitors again in Phase 3 of the route map.
Riddell Graham, Director of Industry & Destination Development at VisitScotland, said: “The Coronavirus pandemic has had a devasting impact on the Scottish tourism industry and this funding package for destination?organisations?and sector groups will hopefully go some way towards supporting them through this challenging time.
“We are pleased to have been able to increase our original funding pot to enable us to provide some funding for all eligible applicants.”
“Even then it is unsurprising that the number of applications has been in excess of what is available and as such difficult decisions have had to be taken.”
“Recovery will require our collective efforts and this fund represents a great opportunity to enable a collaborative approach to meet the massive challenges set by the pandemic and ensure the best possible outcomes for the whole of the visitor economy.”
The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA) and Discover Scottish Gardens (DSG) were among the successful applicants.
Gordon Morrison, Chief Executive of ASVA, said: “The Tourism Destination and Sector Support Fund allows ASVA to continue to operate normally for the rest of 20/21 year, without us needing to further cut costs than we already have or reduce our operations in the short term.”
“It will ensure that we can continue to support the attractions sector at full capacity, which makes a huge difference to us and to the sector.”
“Our organisation works to a very tight budget and relies on income we bring in from members to survive.
“At present, we know that we cannot make asks of members to support our organisation financially, other than renewing their membership, so we have been delivering and will continue to deliver support services to the industry, such as webinars and online events, free of charge.”
“This funding from VisitScotland will allow us to represent and support the sector for the rest of the year.”
Caroline Gould, Business Development Manager at Discover Scottish Gardens, said: “Discover Scottish Gardens is both delighted and very grateful to have received this funding support from the Tourism Destination and Sector Organisation Support Fund.
“Being a small non-profit, DSG relies heavily on membership fees to support and deliver a majority of our work. This grant will allow us to continue operating, delivering the new Scottish Summer Garden Festival (virtually) and supporting our members who cannot afford to pay their membership fee at this time due to the pandemic.
“These funds will aid us during the difficult times we are facing at present and in the coming months.”
For more on the Tourism Destination and Sector Support Fund: https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/funding/coronavirus-dmo-fund