Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond, has called on the Scottish Government to provide support specifically for the tourism industry as lockdown continues to ease throughout the summer.
Yesterday, the Scottish Government announced plans to reopen the tourism industry on 15 July 2020.
This date is subject to change if the scientific evidence indicates it is too soon to do so, and there will be understandable apprehension from the sector about the staffing decisions they have to make; the orders they place, and changes they expect to their future capacity.
The Marion, the Loch Lomond island ferry which has been operated by the MacFarlane family of Balmaha for many years and which delivers the post round the islands. Bill Heaney
Pictures by Bill Heaney
Since the beginning of lockdown, Jackie Baillie has been holding a series of telephone conferences with local businesses in the tourism industry and Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Rural Affairs.
This is to ensure that voices from the sector are listened to within the decision making process and to allow local concerns to be raised.
Yesterday in the Scottish Parliament, Jackie Baillie called on Fergus Ewing – the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Rural Affairs – to support employees, employers and business owners within the tourism industry beyond the current Job Retention Scheme period.
She asked the Scottish Government to work with the UK Government to reshape the Job Retention Scheme so that it continues beyond the end of October as the tourism industry expect to be financially affected by Covid-19 long after other sectors recover. Baillie also called on the government to ensure that representatives from Loch Lomond were included in the Tourism Task Force that is about to be set up.
The local area, taking in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, relies heavily on tourism to support the local economy and many of these businesses are struggling financially due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
Unless there is more help the area could lose as many as 1,200 permanent jobs and 800 seasonal jobs because of a reduction in the number of tourists coming to the area, and subsequently a loss of profit.
Jackie Baillie MSP said: “The tourism industry relies on people being able to travel long distances and having the ability to spend money on holidays and excursions.
“Social distancing will also create challenges for the operation of many tourist facilities.
“Local businesses in Loch Lomond and the surrounding area have been particularly badly hit in the last few months and they understand that this difficult period for them is far from over.
“Many are planning on the basis that they will not be able to recover until the new season begins in March 2021.
“It is vital that the Scottish and UK Governments provide support specifically tailored to the needs of those within the tourism industry. Businesses in this sector are going to be suffering from the economic impact of coronavirus long after other sectors have recovered.
“Urgent action is required in order to save jobs and protect businesses that play such a big and positive role within both our local and national economies.”
Free pictures on behalf of West Dunbartonshire council. 2019 Loch Lomond Highland games at the Moss O’ Balloch. A record number of visitors turned out to watch the popular annual Loch Lomond Highland Games at Balloch today. More than 9,000 visitors attended the event, in Moss OÕBalloch Park, for a range of traditional highland game competitions including cycling, running, hammer throwing and heavy weights and the traditional tossing of the caber and tug-of-war. Dancers entertained the crowds by performing traditional highland dances with their immaculate costumes and perfect hair, and spectators enjoyed music from Helensburgh Clan Colquhoun and Tulliallan pipes and drums. The popular games welcomed visitors from as far afield as Germany and Canada who travelled to Scotland to enjoy the traditional Scottish games and was broadcasted to millions of viewers in China watching Chinese travel programme ÔZhuÕs life in BritainÕ. Aynsley Gouck, Assistant Director of Niagra Highland Dance Academy, said ÒWe are over from Ontario Canada and we are attending four Highland Games during our visit. We love Balloch itÕs a beautiful area of Scotland and weÕve been looking forward to our visit. The Highland Dancing competition is very well organised and the girls are very honoured to be dancing in Scotland.Ó German friends Tina and Arthur Helbig and Kirsten and Volber Rademacher, said: ÒWe are in Scotland for 10 days and although weÕre not staying in Balloch we couldnÕt miss this event. ItÕs a great to see all the smart girls in their beautiful Highland dress and hear the pipe band. We are very excited to be here today.Ó West Dunbartonshire Council leader Jonathan McColl, said: “This yearÕs event was a fantastic day and helped by the wonderful weather. Well done to all the competitors for putting on a great show and thanks to the spectators for encouraging the athletes and putting on a great show. ItÕs always lovely to meet visitors who have travelled around the world to attend this great event. I am proud of our Scottish heritage and the Games are a great way for tourists and visitors to get a true taste of Scotland. Well done to the GamesÕ committee, West Dunbartonshire Leisure Trust and West Dunbartonshire Council on organising yet another hugely successful event.Ó The Chieftain of the Loch Lomond Highland Games, Major James Macrae said: “I am delighted with this yearÕs event which has been a great success and has been very well attended. WeÕve been really fortunate with the weather the last two years and we are grateful to the thousands who came along, which is great testament to everyone involved in organising the Games. Over the years, the games have attracted contestants and spectators from home and abroad every year and I would like to thank everyone who played their part in making this yearÕs games a huge success. On behalf of the committee, I would like to thank our contestants and sponsors, in particular West Dunbartonshire Council and West Dunbartonshire Leisure Trust, for their continued support.” For a full round up of results please visit Loch Lomond High Games website at http://www.llhgb.com Copyright photo by Paul Chappells, 07774730898 http://www.paulphoto.co.uk