Fri 24 Apr 20


Scottish tourism is facing up to its biggest challenge ever with Coronavirus impacting the entire industry. It's expected that the recovery will take some time and many businesses will require significant support to restart their operations.

The recovery of this crucial £11 billion industry requires a multi-agency approach, working with the tourism industry to help those affected today, tomorrow and in the future.

The Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) is working hard to help tourism businesses to recover from this unprecedented situation, working collaboratively to make the best use of budgets and their own employee’s time.

The group, which consists of COSLA, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, South of Scotland Enterprise, the Scottish Tourism Alliance, and VisitScotland has been working on a single, joined-up, phased plan to not just combat the current issues but also look at how the industry could effectively recover once the lockdown is eased. 

This has been a real team effort, giving the agencies an opportunity to refocus plans and redirect budget, as well as working alongside the tourism industry to work through daily issues.

To respond most effectively, all work on Scotland Outlook 2030, the new national tourism strategy and the supporting action plan is temporarily on hold, as the entire focus has been shifted to supporting STERG develop a National Action Plan. The STERG National Action Plan will however look to align with Scotland Outlook 2030.

STERG’s immediate priorities are to support businesses by providing information and reassurance; safeguarding employment; and helping them access financial assistance to maintain cashflow and secure a viable future.

The four key areas within the plan are:

Respond: focused on delivering a package of measures to support businesses, most in need communities, stay home and social distancing guidance.

Reset: sectoral guidance to encourage workplace plans for the re-start. It will be essential for businesses to operate in a way that is compliant with social distancing and enable them to be more resilient to re-start safely within the new economic environment.

Re-start: kick-starting the economy safely is essential. We'll need to consider the impact of supply chains and measures that need to be in place to enable businesses to come back on-stream in a safe and orderly way.

Recovery: economic recovery is likely to take longer than originally anticipated.  What emerges is likely to be a different economy characterised by new business models, markets and behaviours.

The year-long plan takes a phased approach and the group is currently collaborating to deliver the first two phases which are around respond and reset. This document will continue to evolve in line with the scientific evidence and government advice on the reopening of the tourism industry.

Phase one (Respond) is focused on delivering a package of measures to support businesses, as well as giving social distancing / stay home guidance.

Key measures so far have included:

  • Setting up a dedicated helpline to support businesses
  • The launch of a new free to use jobs portal
  • Developing an understanding on the impact on sectoral groups and DMOs
  • Refunding Quality Assurance fees
  • #Stayhome messaging across all channels
  • Gathering intelligence and data to see how the industry have been impacted in Scotland
  • An impact assessment on skills
  • Setting up direct links with the Scottish Government to raise ongoing issues
  • Ensuring that the industry understands and can apply for current financial packages through clear communication and clarity on the current grants, rates relief, Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Self Employed grant, Job Retention Scheme and other financial packages
  • Developing and signposting to well-being support for business owners and employees
  • Establishing clear communication through channels to ensure effective signposting to sites including, STA and

Phase two (Reset) is about engaging with the industry, supporting them and coordinating next moves to encourage workplace planning for a safe re-start

This includes:

  • Collating strong market intelligence from consumers to understand when they will be ready to travel
  • Giving advice on rules around social distancing and new ways of working
  • Working with OTAs (Online travel agents) to identify timings of a phased return
  • Develop economic analysis to identify what support is required
  • Understanding from businesses and organisations the support they require to plan and prepare for a re-start.
  • Developing a “dream now – travel later” marketing approach
  • Scenario planning to influence recovery plans
  • Review of existing support and repurposing in line with the priorities
  • Determine what long-term support may be required
  • Scope the short to medium landscape for the events industry
  • Gather intelligence from industry via virtual forums

Stages three and four – Re-start and Recover will be published soon but their focus will be post-lockdown and will outline marketing activity, how we respond to the responsible and community tourism agenda and how to continue supporting the ambitions of Scotland Outlook 2030 and our vision to be the world leader in 21st century tourism.

STERG National Action PLan Download (156Kb)


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