6th April 2020
Tourism is dropping in the loch. A prolonged lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic could see at least £200 million wiped off the value of tourism in the National Park Loch Lomond and The Trossachs. This year, tourism will potentially drop at least a quarter. This may means over 1,200 redundancies according to the CEO of the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, James Fraser.
Fears of a £200m hit for tourism businesses in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
The unprecedented lockdown has risen the concerns on SME’s across the Scottish national park. Although it may be good for the environment, is disastrous to the business. So far losses are over £100m, including advance group bookings from both UK and international markets.
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Scotland. It receives over 4 million visitors a year generating over £420m and sustaining thousands of jobs directly and indirectly.
Fraser warned that even if the government lifts current restrictions in time for the peak summer months, tourism businesses will have a slow recovery. For instance, social distancing precautions still requiring to be in force for a long time. Additionally, many travellers will be reluctant to travel until an effective virus vaccine is in place. He estimates total losses could exceed £200 million by the end of the year with many businesses struggling to survive. Tourism is dropping in the loch.
Mr Fraser, who is in regular contact with a number of businesses in the National Park, said: «In the 40 years I have worked in the tourist industry I have never witnessed a situation as bad as this. It is much worse than the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 that led to the shutdown of the countryside».
‘’In the past 6 weeks, it has been upsetting to see so family businesses, which have been built up with hard work over many years, in such a state of turmoil. They are fighting for their very existence through no fault of their own.
«Most businesses have gone from looking forward to what was shaping up to be a bumper year to a situation overnight with income generation falling to zero. And there is no end in sight.’’
It will take many years for them to recover
He cited numerous examples of medium-sized businesses already losing, on average, £1-2 million so far. Three cruise companies operating on the National Park lochs have lost over £4 million collectively.
Mr Fraser added: «The response to this crisis from both the UK and Scottish Governments has been impressive. It is very encouraging to see some of the support packages being modified for the better».
‘’However, no Government support scheme can fully cover the scale of the downturn in tourism revenues. Many businesses have had to take out very substantial loans as part of their fight for survival. It will take many years for them to recover from what has been a catastrophic situation here in the National Park».
In a recent report the OECD estimate declines of 45% to 70% in the international tourism economy in 2020, depending on the duration of the crisis and the speed with which tourism rebounds.