Covid and Brexit: Scottish visitor attractions still in ‘survival’ mode


MOST of Scotland’s visitor attractions still have “survival” and not “recovery” as their priority, with a “staffing crisis caused by Brexit” compounding challenges arising from a lack of international visitors, a key survey shows.

The survey of more than 180 organisations, representing 353 individual attractions, also signals there has been “no staycation boom” for the sector, with more than half of it not yet fully open. Conducted for the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions by Glasgow Caledonian University’s Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Development, the survey shows the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to “devastate the sector”.

Only 48.1 per cent of the sector is fully open. More than one in ten attractions remain closed. And a further 40.9% are operating with reduced hours or limited facilities “because of the impacts of both the pandemic and Brexit”.

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The survey found 34.3% of attractions are not operating at an economically sustainable level. Turnover is down more than 50% at 35.8% of attractions this year, compared with the same period in 2019, with 47.5% of the sector having seen a decrease in visitor numbers of greater than 50%.

More than one in five attractions have less than three months of financial reserves as they head into the off-season.

ASVA chief executive Gordon Morrison said: “I cannot emphasise strongly enough that…there’s been no staycation boom or widespread economic recovery for our sector this year, and we face a very challenging winter.”

Moffat Centre director John Lennon said: “Tourism, like many other industries in Scotland, has been hugely impacted by the loss of EU workers as a direct consequence of Brexit. The ability to adequately and safely staff operations has become the next insurmountable challenge.”

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