Tourism and hospitality should remain closed until at least 2021

All hospitality and tourism businesses should remain closed for the rest of this year. This includes pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses, self-catering holiday lets, campsites and tourist attractions. Motorhomes and caravans should be banned from leaving home so that they cannot 'wild camp'. We are repeatedly told that we have to keep the "R" number below one in order for the virus not to spread exponentially. Every activity that involves meeting other people has some risk but some are much riskier than others. For example, visiting a friend or family member in their own home must be among the lowest risk. However, anything that involves large groups of people in close proximity (bars, restaurants, tourist attractions etc) or people travelling (holiday accomodation) is much riskier and risks the "R" number going way above one. Holidays are not essential. Visits to pubs and tourist attractions are not essential. As well as potentially spreading the virus, anyone travelling to another area for a holiday, particularly a remote rural area, puts strain on local resources including shops, fuel stations and medical services. If tourism businesses are not closed down, then there will likely be a surge in tourist numbers from within the UK, since travel abroad is unlikely to be possible in the near future. I think that all tourism and hospitality businesses should close for the rest of this year and that the situation should be reviewed in early 2021. If this were the case then everyone would know where they stand and could plan accordingly. Those employed in the tourist and hospitality industries would need to be supported by grants/benefits. According to the government statistic website, there are around 250,000 people employed in these industries, which is about 9% of the total workforce. It's a large number but not as large as in many other (essential) industries. I do realise that people need something to look forward to and a holiday or trip out to a bar/restaurant is one such thing. However I think it is far more sensible to open up lower risk things like seeing family or friends in their own homes and open up more shops and services (e.g. garden centres and recycling centres) with appropriate social distancing and safety measures. These steps would give people a bit of hope that things are moving towards to a 'new normal' without the huge risks that opening up the travel and hospitality industry would bring.

Why the contribution is important

There are many calls for a partial opening up of the tourist industry but as far as I can see this is impossible to regulate. Everyone thinks that by taking a holiday themselves it won't make any difference but the problem is in the numbers of people doing so. Just look at the huge numbers of people flocking to the Highlands in the few days before lockdown. Each of those people individually thought it was a jolly good idea and that they weren't doing any harm but the numbers quickly multiply up and cause problems. If the industries remained closed for a definite period - e.g. until the end of 2020 - then the message is crystal clear, everyone knows where they are and can plan accordingly. By the way, I am in the tourist industry myself; I own holiday accomodation in the Highlands. I have closed it for the rest of the year regardless of what the government does with lockdown, because I don't feel that encouraging people to come on holiday here this year is the right thing to do for the reasons stated above. I have no income at the moment - like many other people - but there are support systems in place to stop us from starving. You can recover from your business failing for a year. You can't recover from dying from COVID-19.

by TracyMcLachlan on May 09, 2020 at 12:05PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 2.2
Based on: 22 votes


  • Posted by Robert1000 May 09, 2020 at 12:37

    I think this is the challenge. 8 weeks in and we still keep the same script. A hugely shocking situation we are in but this is life and we need to go forward. Start to be innovative not just keep circling the wagons. There are so many activities and ways to travel that have natural social distancing and so many business's will not survive if we keep talking about the status quo. Using the argument that you should be scared of dying is one way or you could come at it from the other side- find a better and safer way to live. I also have to be honest. Just saying to business plan to be closed for the rest of the year is naïve. Our children and grandchildren deserve better from us than to just kick the financial mess down the road for them to live with.
  • Posted by Bec May 09, 2020 at 12:42

    I don't think you've fully understood the impact of closing down the whole tourism industry. It's such a large part of the economy that it supports huge areas of other industries. It would have a knock on effect on the retail sector, taxi operators, plumbers, electricians, builders, gardeners, cleaners, laundrettes, accountants, estate agents... the trickle down effect would be devastating. If you kill part of the economy where are you going to get the money for the recovery? The government have to find a balance between health and the economy or more people will die because of a drop in GDP than covid-19. We can't isolate longterm and I don't envy the people who have to make the decision to ease it.
  • Posted by MargaretAnne May 09, 2020 at 12:47

    I agree in part but think that there should be a staged reopening. For example self catering accommodation could open first as it is self contained. Pubs etc where there is no regulation of who or how many groups arrive are in a different situation from other aspects of the hospitality industry. B&bs in people's own homes are another aspect to be considered. So, I think that in order for there not to be a sudden upsurge in people travelling there should be a staged reopening by the ability to be self contained in the accommodation / premises. It may also be considered that there be a staged reopening in remote/ island areas for permanent residents only where social distancing can be maintained as far as possible but travel restrictions to those areas are maintained. This could be dependent upon the evidence based number of local cases of the virus. I live on an island where there are 3 confirmed cases which are isolated and all at home. Once they are clear and after a period of time if there are no more ,could it be that our lockdown is relieved a bit?
  • Posted by Shabbyhouse May 09, 2020 at 13:13

    An immediate staged reopening is essential, or the Scottish economy, particularly in the Highlands is wrecked. Staged reopening, could for instance mean campsites with large spaces between pitches, beer gardens in pubs selling off-sales etc. July 1st sees the opening of the red deer stag season, and I fully expect that access will have been granted by then.
  • Posted by Dave_H May 09, 2020 at 13:26

    If tourism is to remain shut for so long, then the financial help that has been given needs to be given for a LOT longer. Instead we should in due course (not right now) look at ways that hospitality can re open. For instance allow a guest house to re open, providing all occupants in a room are from the same family that normally live together. As restaurants will probably not be open, the guest house would have to offer full or half board, with meals either being in a dining room large enough to distance from other guests, or on a rota basis so different gusts are fed at different times. and use of communal lounges should be discouraged to prevent different family groups intermixing. We have to find some way to get businesses like this operating again. they cannot just wait until a vaccine is found, or there will be a lot of empty guest houses and bankrupt owners.
  • Posted by David924 May 09, 2020 at 13:35

    There are lots of services industry and building firms whose personnel need overnight accomodation. At the least, this need must addressed clearly and quickly. I'm sure some providers with better suited accomodation can rise to this. Related to this, 200 people leave their foreign isolation and go to an airport. They mingle and sit together 3 abreast on a plane bound for the UK. They disembark, mingle and promise to isolate for 14 days once they have travelled on all manner of transport to their chosen residence. How is this OK?
  • Posted by SteveR57 May 09, 2020 at 13:40

    This is an insane proposal based on what our country is and how much the tourism sector provides. Thre should be a new normal but shutting down until 2021 is fearmongering, crazy and would lead to disaster for many
  • Posted by petermuir79 May 09, 2020 at 14:02

    Sounds like you dont understand how our economy works. All businesses interlink and shutting down one sector shuts down another...and another........and another. And why until 2021, are you expecting the virus to disappear on the 1st of Jan...or the 1st of Mar...what about the end of April? The first isnt going away. We dont have a cure for the common cold, were not going to get a cure for this virus. We need to accept were not going to win, were going to have to live with it like we do with the seasonal Flu.
  • Posted by KarenB3 May 09, 2020 at 14:13

    Caught between a rock and a hard place with this. I also run a holiday let in the highlands. Just some of my concerns - A) guests travelling into our community with the possibility of bringing COVID19 with them. B) the cleaning up on guest departure incase any guest(s) are infected which can then be passed on. And vice versa, cleaners may be carrying infection which could be passed onto guests. Sorting through dirty linen and the cleaning of bathrooms?? C) How safe is it to have back to back bookings? I’ve been running for 11 years and don’t appear to be covered by any financial help that is being offered by the government but I’m still very concerned for everyone should we open up too soon and would rather hold fire for the sake of everyone’s health and well being. I would be devastated if, due to the sorry state of my bank account, I’d encouraged the Virus into my home and community. I may vie on the side of slowly, slowly in the short term.
  • Posted by JLMBD May 09, 2020 at 14:18

    Agree. We're back to the same old argument. Do you value people or money the most? A currently unaffected area of the Highlands could be decimated by one carrier going into the community. Many of the most beautiful areas of the Highlands and Islands have many vulnerable residents and are currently unaffected by the virus. For example there are no cases of C19 in Gairloch, Ullapool or Lochinver. Naturally those of us who have very elderly family members there want it to stay that way. The local community doesn't want tourists or non residents coming into the community for any reason except healthcare or delivery vehicles. The local shop doesn't want any non-residents in it. Vehicles break down putting the recovery driver and his family at risk. Accidents (which do happen still) put police, paramedics, recovery drivers and all their families at risk. MRT rescues put every member of the team and all their households at risk because they can't rescue without working side by side. Yes it could be you. Stay away and save lives.
  • Posted by freedom1 May 09, 2020 at 14:34

    Utterly insane proposal! Are we trying to bankrupt Scotland and eliminate tens of thousands of peoples jobs, livelihoods and businesses for good? Do we wish to sacrifice our country's tourism infrastructure? Provided the same 'home' safety measures are in place across the uk (eg 2 mtr distancing, masks in essential situations, etc) then tourism areas must be allowed to re-open in line with other trades. When shops open - they open everywhere, when cafes open - they open everywhere, and when parks & open spaces open - they open everywhere. If the appropriate measures are in place it makes little difference that people are able to take their holidays in as safe an environment as they would find elsewhere in the country. Lock down, was we were told was to help ensure the NHS could cope. They could cope. Holidays are good for you and I'd like to suggest that the benefits to the nation of a holiday this year, say in the beautiful highlands would bring equal benefits to the NHS through improved health & happiness of us all. It would certainly help arrest the concern about the longer term fallout from lock down in terms of future ill health on our health services too.
  • Posted by DUFC1983 May 09, 2020 at 15:01

    KarenB3's idea is a reasonable compromise that minimises cross infection risk in self catering accommodation while still allowing the owner to obtain some income. Let the accommodation out every second week only, allowing a week for the risk of any virus to dissipate and deep cleaning to be carried out.
  • Posted by MC0891 May 09, 2020 at 16:43

    I am someone who works in this industry and this idea is ridiculous! The unease or losing my job is very real. How do you propose that us who work in this industry survive? If the pubs and hospitality industry were to close then there would be more depression and death that this virus is causing!
  • Posted by TracyMcLachlan May 10, 2020 at 07:16

    Thank you for all your comments but I simply don't agree with everyone who thinks there could be 'staged' reopening of tourism. How on earth would you police it? Scotland - and everywhere else - has to learn that mass tourism is unsustainable while the virus is with us. As I said in my original comment, as soon as you open up a little, hordes of people will be flocking on holiday and you may as well have just removed all restrictions. The tourist economy is only 4.5% of the total Scottish economy, and that's counting both direct and indirect income (source: The comments from people who think that Scotland's economy is based entirely around tourism are clearly from people who are in the industry themselves and have a skewed viewpoint. Look at the figures to see the big picture. I am not saying tourism has to close altogether forever and of course it won't, I am saying it needs to be the last thing to reopen from lockdown. And yes, some businesses will fail. They will fail in other sectors as well, not just tourism. I reiterate what I said - you can recover from your business failing (or losing your job) but you can't recover from dying.
  • Posted by westa5a May 11, 2020 at 17:17

    I work in this sector as a guide at an Historic Scotland property and I am in agreement with this, only if financial support were provided to those of us affected. My concern is that if this sector is allowed to re-open we will see a large spike in visitors as they will now have access to visit places that have been closed to them during lockdown. This would also have an impact on public transport, which many tourists and locals use to visit tourist attractions, camp sites etc. I know there are ideas about limiting capacity of public transport but this would not be feasible given the numbers of people who would be looking to make use of the tourism and heritage sector, which in turn could lead to an increase in Covid19 cases. If the Tourism and Heritage sector is to re-open then it should be amongst the very last industries to be allowed to resume.
  • Posted by Cathol May 11, 2020 at 17:59

    Provide evidence to prove tourism increases transmission of the virus.
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