Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today responded to the Federation of Small Businesses’ July Report on tourism and hospitality recovery in the Highlands and Islands, which found that 42% of businesses in the sector are struggling to generate sales and profits and a quarter concerned about their ability to survive to 2022. The report suggests that, while allowing for a smaller sample size, Orkney and Shetland are seeing a more severe level of anxiety amongst businesses, particularly around travel restrictions and access to staff.
Commenting on the report, Mr Carmichael said:
“These figures suggest that with the high season, such as it is, quickly passing us by there has been no great boost to tourism from staycations as some hoped. We may yet see better numbers through the rest of the summer but this is a warning that we need a long tail for government support for our businesses which rely on seasonal trade.
“People have understandably felt caught between a desire to get business moving again and a concern about mass influxes of tourists and that will have had a knock-on effect for trade. On the reverse side, the longstanding message for people to stay as local as possible and avoid public transport is likely to have discouraged people coming to the isles from the south.
“A quarter of businesses fear they will not continue into 2022 – if it is anything like that in reality we could see the short term problems of the pandemic turn into a lasting downturn for the isles economy. To counter this danger we need lasting support with measures like the VAT reduction.”