In recognition of the severe impact that the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have on Scotland's tourism industry, the Scottish Government announced several important support packages in December 2020, with the overall goal of helping the industry survive the impacts of the pandemic.
One of these support packages, the "Marine and Outdoor Tourism Restart Fund", operated by VisitScotland, is due to open for applications in early February 2021. Below we take a high-level look at the fund and, in particular, the types of marine and boating businesses that could potentially benefit from it.
Tourism in Scotland
The tourism industry is of huge importance to Scotland. Scottish Enterprise reports that in 2018 alone, £5 billion was generated from tourist spending alone, as a result of 15.5 million visitors. In total that year, tourism was estimated to contribute around £10.5 billion to Scotland's wider economy. With Covid-19 appearing to continue to shadow much of the year ahead, and increasing talk of bolstering Scotland's borders and travel restrictions, the tourism industry is in dire need of support and funding in what looks likely to be another very difficult year.
A total of £2,500,000 is being made available through the fund, with the possibility of up to £15,000 available to each eligible business. The amount that an eligible business can expect to receive from the fund is ultimately dependent on the overall number of successful applicants, with the anticipation that the fund is going to be inundated with interest and applications.
Eligible business types
In recognition of the vast array of businesses that are caught within the marine and outdoor tourism sector, the fund has been split into a two-strand approach in determining the eligibility of applicants:
- Marine & Boating Tourism Operators; and
- Outdoor Wildlife, Adventure & Activity Sector Tourism Businesses.
Regardless of what category your business may fall into, VisitScotland have detailed strict criteria for each that must be met for any application to be successful. Further, as part of the wider application process, businesses must declare that on 31 December 2019, they did not meet any of the criteria to be considered an "undertaking in difficulty".
The full eligibility criteria for the fund can be found at: https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/funding/marine-outdoor-restart-fund
The window for applications is relatively short, and will be open only from 12pm on 2 February until 5pm on 9 February. VisitScotland have noted that any applications received either before or after this window will be automatically rejected.
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