£2.5m fund launched to help marine and outdoor Scottish businesses restart

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FUNDING totalling £2.5m aimed at helping adventure and marine tourism businesses in Scotland was launched today.

The fund is part of a £104.3m package of support for tourism businesses who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new Marine and Outdoor Tourism Restart Fund will be administered by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government in partnership with other tourism bodies.

Sea Kayaking. VisitScotland Paul Tomkins - Scottish News
(VisitScotland Paul Tomkins) Tourism bodies will be able to apply for funding early next month.

The purpose of the funding is said to support “essential re-commissioning and re-start costs for businesses, aimed at those who have been significantly affected by the pandemic.”

The fund will be open for applications from Tuesday 2 February with businesses being able to apply for grants of up to £15,000.

The final amounts awarded to a successful applicant will be determined once all applications are received by the closing date of 5pm on Tuesday 9 February. 

The funding is aimed at “responsible tourism operators” who provide sustainable outdoor related activities to visitors. 

This includes activities on land and water, from wildlife watching to charter and sailing holidays, bushcraft and survival to canoeing and mountaineering.  

Riddell Graham, Director of Industry & Destination Development, VisitScotland, said: “We are pleased to be able to work in partnership with Wild Scotland and Sail Scotland to deliver the fund at a much needed time for the industry. 

 “Recovery will require our collective efforts and this funding support will enable outdoor businesses to address some of the challenges they face around re-opening for 2021.

“Businesses across these sectors are at the heart of providing responsible, memorable experiences that connect visitors with Scotland’s great outdoors and our incredible Coasts and Waters.”

Due to the complexity and variety of businesses within the sector, two strands have been put in place, with businesses able to apply to just one.

These are for either marine and boating tourism operators or outdoor wildlife, adventure and activity sector tourism businesses.

A full list of eligible businesses and guidelines can be found on the websites page.

Wild Scotland and Sail Scotland are also involve the partnership  as they secured the funding on behalf of their sectors. 

Victoria Brooks, Wild Scotland, said: “It is essential that businesses are ready to go at the start of the season, not only will they then be able to fulfil the potential demand for our incredible outdoor activities, wildlife watching experiences and marine activities, but the sector is incredibly well placed to drive the demand for tourism in Scotland which will support the wider recovery across the tourism industry.   

 “Outdoor tourism has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, but it is also a sector with huge growth potential, particularly in the deliverance of sustainable and responsible tourism activities which in time will create new jobs and ensure Scotland is on the map as a world leading responsible tourism destination.      

“This fund really does highlight the importance of the outdoor sector in Scotland and the vital role it will play in the recovery post COVID-19 both economically and mentally.”  

Alan Rankin, CEO, Sail Scotland spoke on how it is vital to support the sector.

Mr Rankin said: “The Fund aims to support operators meet the high re-commissioning and re-start costs associated with the sector and will provide much needed confidence to many operators.

“The importance of supporting the sector at this time of year is vital, not just for direct jobs but also the valuable economic benefits Marine Tourism brings to rural and remote coastal and island communities”.