A specific strategy for remote rural area

The more I think about it (and I've worked in rural development), the more I feel that (remote) rural communities may have been disproportionately affected by the Corona virus lockdown. Many communities may have managed to keep the actual virus at bay, but the effect of the lockdown is felt even harder. Many people in the land-based sectors have been furloughed, because (conservation) businesses and organisations are not expected to get the income from tourism they are dependent on. Tourism business (many of them small) similarly cannot do business. Yet, I am also thinking of the many people who receive their income from many odd jobs, e.g. cleaners of holiday lets, who are not getting the income they expected. As their income structure is much less straightforward (a typical feature for income in remote rural areas), I expect it will be much harder for them to access government grant schemes. Rural poverty is real and the lockdown - despite the economic measures - is only likely to increase that poverty. On this website about how to come out of lockdown there have been a lot of posts from people with second homes, static caravans and campervans stating that they want to be allowed to access rural areas again 'to restart the rural economy'. I don't think it is that straightforward. Rural healthcare is fragile and there is a genuine fear that the virus will be spread by receiving visitors. The virus and lockdown has made us all aware how health and care workers, as well as people working in shops, delivery drivers, etc., are key to the functioning of society. Yet, they are the lowest paid. Likewise, the cleaners, waiters, shop assistants dependent on the tourism sector are among the lowest paid. By opening up rural Scotland we risk creating yet another group of low paid workers at the frontline. What's more, many of them (like their urban care worker and shop assistant counterparts) will feel they have no choice, but to welcome tourists as they desperately need the income to feed their family. This is about the haves and the have-nots. There are power relations involved in the call to open up rural Scotland for second home owners and tourists from England. Rural communities may feel they have no choice. Eventually, there may also be a backlash. It may further us-against-them thinking - urban versus rural and England against Scotland - and that won't help any of us. I urge the Scottish Government to assess their policies from a rural development perspective, and to develop a strategy to support remote rural areas.

Why the contribution is important

The impact of the lockdown may be felt differently and harsher in remote rural areas than in accessible rural and urban areas.

by petrav on May 11, 2020 at 09:14AM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.8
Based on: 8 votes


  • Posted by Dave_H May 11, 2020 at 09:43

    I do constantly feel the Scottish Government is too "central belt" oriented and one rule fits all simply does not work. I have been arguing for a lot more freedom to do outdoor activities where I live in the highlands, something we have space to do here without coming into contact with others. Perhaps the SG are resisting these suggestions because they only fear lots of people in the central belt all trying to do things outdoors and falling over each other? So yes the rules need to fit the reality of what is possible and safe in a particular location.
  • Posted by sheenaduboust May 11, 2020 at 13:00

    I agree with many of the comments as I live in the Highlands too but I recognise it would be difficult to manage too many different guidelines and to stop people moving from another part of the Uk but it could be looked at.
  • Posted by Leigh May 11, 2020 at 13:38

    I quite agree with this idea. As a cleaner for a holiday let I am dreading the tourists coming back as there is no clear guidance regards cleaning, and required gaps etc before another person arrives. But it gives me an I come which supplements my small pension as I retired early. The government needs clear plans in place for rural areas that depend on tourism and have so far managed to keep the virus at bay but are suffering heavily financially. Ideally the tourists need to be kept away but our small businesses and tourist employed people will need financial help to see us through
  • Posted by CarolineS May 11, 2020 at 15:05

    I think that if any geographic restrictions on movement do come in (e.g. in France 60 miles), it needs to be recognised that those in rural areas might have to travel a long way to a supermarket, for medical reasons or work, and must be able to do so.
  • Posted by rscot May 11, 2020 at 16:38

    I dread the thought of the Highlands and Islands being opened up again as a tourist destination. We cannot cope. Even our current supermarkets cannot cope; add to this, hundreds of daily tourists and it would become a nightmare for local to buy their groceries.
  • Posted by livingin_hope May 11, 2020 at 19:50

    I agree with the idea of a strategy for rural areas but I disagree with the emphasis on the English and secondary homers and that visitors would essentially be wealthier and there have some sort of power to 'force' poorer accommodation and rural business providers to accept them visiting when they do not want them to. Living in a remote rural community and working in tourism ( well before Covid I did) we had more Scottish visitors than any other nationality ( followed by English and then a real mix). There is a lot of fear within rural communities and understandably so but what is required is support to protect the communities but also allow the businesses and the people that live within them get on with their lives and earn money safely as lock down is slowly eased. There are many practical things that can be done that help allay a lot of the fears - increased medical support based within the communities, extra ambulances based within the communities, visitors could be required to have pre- booked accommodation in advance (goes against the Right to Roam but as a temporary measure it should be acceptable) - therefore camper vans, motorhomes, campers can still come but they must stay on a site they have prebooked. Shops can declare if they are for local supply or can cope with visitors and locals. If tourists can travel to rural areas then locals can travel out of them and they will not be wholly dependent on the small local stores as they currently are during lockdown. Clear guidance on how to clean properties not just for the guests safety but the workers safety. Rural communities cannot be mothballed until vaccine is developed, they have to be helped to carry on and there is no reason why this cannot happen - just takes a bit of time, thought and support.
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