Monday, 5 July, marked the start of a new advertising campaign designed to encourage people to choose a career in Scotland’s tourism and hospitality industries. Developed by the Scottish Government in conjunction with the industries and organisations including the Scottish Tourism Alliance, UK Hospitality Scotland and Skills Development Scotland, the initiative is supported by £100,000 funding from VisitScotland.

The recruitment drive – which will run until 15 August – has been designed to address the staffing crisis which the industries are currently experiencing, with workforce shortages having been caused as a result of Brexit and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help businesses attract candidates to fill their vacancies, the advertising campaign is targeted at 18-30 year-olds throughout Scotland. It will encourage young people to play their part in the industries’ recovery by promoting the range of roles available in them. In addition to highlighting the extensive variety of career options suited to different skill sets and the diverse job opportunities available now, the campaign advertising will highlight the unique benefits of working in tourism and hospitality.

Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, Ivan McKee MSP, said: “Tourism and hospitality businesses have been extremely hard hit by the pandemic and the ability to employ committed, talented and enthusiastic staff will be an important part of the recovery. We had pledged £25 million for tourism recovery in the first 100 days of this Government and this recruitment campaign will play a key part in that recovery. I hope this recruitment drive will encourage young Scots who perhaps hadn’t considered a job in this sector to look at the many opportunities available to them.”

As part of the campaign, a toolkit of resources is available that businesses, including those in the attractions sector, can take advantage of to boost their own recruitment activities. Including the hashtag #DoWhatYouLove in its assets, the toolkit is available here.

Yesterday (7th July) ASVA’s CEO, Gordon Morrison, and Chair, Susan Morrison, met with the new Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, Ivan McKee MSP, to discuss the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and restrictions on the Scottish attractions sector.

In a wide-ranging discussion, Gordon and Susan relayed to the Minister the importance of our sector to the Scottish economy, the seasonal nature of the industry and what this means for any possible recovery, the impact that restrictions continue to have on viable trading, and the importance of continued funding support for our beleaguered businesses if we are going to be in a position to lead the full recovery of Scottish tourism in 2022.

Current visitation and turnover levels were discussed, along with recovery prospects this year and the key asks of the industry of the Scottish Government in the immediate to short term, most specifically clear and timely communications on notifications of changes to restrictions, and additional funding support to help the sector make it through another very challenging winter ahead. Issues with recruitment in the post-Brexit and COVID landscape were also discussed, as well as the impact on business operations at attractions of the current Test & Protect policy of a 10-day isolation period for anyone who is informed they are a close contact of someone with coronavirus.

Mr McKee advised that he found the discussion highly useful and is fully aware of the vital importance of our sector within the wider tourism landscape. He also stated that, whilst further funding will most likely depend on consequentials coming from the UK Government, he is keen to follow up with ASVA on what shape any further funding support for our sector should take. As a result, we will look to liaise with ASVA members on this key issue soon.

Overall, our first meeting with the Minister was positive and ASVA very much looks forward to continuing dialogue with Mr McKee in the months ahead.

Our colleagues at The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), have shared with ASVA the findings of their latest research into visitor sentiment. The research was carried out by insight-led consultancy Decision House to gauge the views of the public on visits to re-opening venues.

The latest wave of research (wave 9), was conducted after the Prime Minister and First Minister had announced the postponement of easing physical distancing and other mitigation measures, so respondents were aware of those political announcements and their consequences.
The research shows that, whilst there growing desire to visit attractions, and particularly attractions in Scotland, there are anxieties amongst a significant proportion when it comes to the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, including physical distancing.  This throws up some interesting questions for the sector, all of which we will cover in our upcoming Members Meetup event  on 14th July –   Beyond Level 0 – How are Scottish Attractions Approaching the Lifting of Restrictions?

Some of the key highlights from the latest wave of research include:

  • Since late April, there has been another positive shift in appetite for visiting attractions when they re-open. In particular, some of those ‘waiting to see what happens for a short while’ are now ready to visit, although this hesitant group still represents around 40% of the market.
  • Appetite for visiting has continued to grow across all age groups, in the South of England, Wales and Scotland. Indeed in this wave of research, Scotland has the highest percentage of respondents (75%) who indicated they had either already visited or intended to visit as soon as opportunity arises.
  • Although confidence is clearly growing and anxiety around using facilities falling, 60% still express fear or concerns about visiting – especially on measures to limit crowds / keep distancing. Three-quarters of the attractions-visiting public are not yet ready to remove Covid-19 safety measures, the same as at end April.
  • Although falling slightly since the end of April, there remains notable support for some form of ‘proof of vaccination / exemption’, especially for indoor venues and among the over 55s, once the vaccine has been fully rolled out. Around a third of those who would ordinarily visit indoor attractions/events claim that they would not visit unless all visitors had some form of vaccine proof.
  • Evidence indicates that vaccine proof would be a trigger for tempting many from the more cautious segments to return to indoor attractions, but may alienate some current visitors. This is less the case for outdoor attractions, although around a third of those from the cautious segments might be tempted to visit by some form of vaccination proof.
  • Most safety measures will still be highly comforting to visitors, although the impact of providing hand sanitiser on feelings of safety has decreased over time, whilst measures focussed on limiting capacity have remained highly comforting.

We are hugely grateful to ALVA Director Bernard Donoghue for sharing the latest research with us and we look forward to welcoming him to provide further insights at the aforementioned ASVA Members Meetup on 14th July.

You can download the full report here.

On the back of this research, ALVA has produced guidance for visitor attractions wishing to maintain some mitigation measures after restrictions are lifted. This guidance is very much just that though and ALVA is clear that  it is definitely up to individual attractions to make their own decisions about what is right for them.

You can view the ALVA guidance at this link.

From an ASVA perspective, we accept that there will be differences across the sector, when it comes to what measures will be maintained. That is inevitable when you have the breadth of different businesses that we have in our sector. What should be a constant though is the need to listen to and understand the concerns and needs of your own staff and your visitors when you are deciding which measures may be best to maintain to ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for all.

ASVA will certainly support all its members in their own decisions on how to manage opening, and we know for many it is a very tricky balancing act to manage commercial viability and ensuing everyone feels totally safe. 

As many had been anticipating, the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, confirmed to the Scottish Parliament yesterday, 22 June, that there will be no further easing of Protection Level restrictions across Scotland for the time-being – with the move to Level 0 being delayed for at least three weeks to allow more time for the vaccine programme roll-out.

Current restrictions had been scheduled to be eased on 28 June, however they will remain in place until 19 July at the earliest. In her statement, Ms Sturgeon also announced, and provided details on, the publication of two important documents – the updated Strategic Framework for tackling COVID-19 in Scotland, and the Review Paper on Physical Distancing restrictions. 

ASVA members should note the following significant changes due to come into place from 19 July, providing the data allows, are:

  • Indoor physical distancing requirements – including those at visitor attractions – will be reduced from 2 metres to I metre. This is extremely welcome news for our sector; as members will be all too aware, the impact of  2-metre distancing has been very detrimental to attractions as this restriction prohibits so many sites from operating viably, and ASVA has been lobbying robustly for change on this issue.
  • Outdoor physical distancing requirements will be removed completely. There will, therefore, be no requirement to operate with any physical distancing restrictions in any outdoor visitor attraction setting.
  • There will be no limits on the number of people who can socialise informally outside
  • Indoor restrictions on social gatherings in a public place will move from 8 people from 3 households to 10 people from 4 households

In addition, Ms Sturgeon advised yesterday that, again providing the data allows, Scotland will move ‘beyond Level 0’ on 9 August – the hope is that the remaining rules can be lifted to allow life to return to close to pre-COVID normality.  There will however still be some restrictions in place. Key points that attractions should note are:

  • There will be no physical distancing requirements either in indoor or outdoor settings, so attractions will no longer need to ensure physical distancing within their venues.
  • Face coverings will still be required in certain settings. This is likely to include indoor visitor attractions, but ASVA is now seeking clarity from the Scottish Government on this.
  • Continued compliance with Test & Protect will be required. It is therefore likely that attractions will be required to continue to take contact details from visitors. Again, ASVA is seeking clarity from Scottish Government on this matter.
  • Targeted international travel restrictions will remain in place. On this matter, the updated Strategic Framework sets out that international travel restrictions will be in place ‘only for as long as necessary to respond to the threat of importation’ and that these restrictions will be ‘reviewed regularly and relaxed when it is safe to do so’.

Summarising the implications of the details included in the First Minister’s announcement, ASVA CEO Gordon Morrison said: “It is disappointing, but not surprising, to hear that current restrictions will remain in place for another three weeks. This is very significant, as it means that restrictions which prevent many attractions from being able to trade at an economically viable level will still be in place in the summer. As a seasonal industry, this is likely to have major ramifications for the sector when we move into the winter months, as it will not have been possible for many businesses to have built up necessary funds to see them through the off season.

“It is, however, pleasing to see that we are finally seeing some movement on physical distancing. The relaxation of indoor restrictions to 1 metre on 19 July will make a significant difference to the viable operation at a number of attractions, so it’s very good news to see this being introduced. More encouraging still is that we now have clear direction of when and how we will see physical distancing restrictions removed across the board, which is essential for the sector’s recovery prospects.

“Whilst the news yesterday was generally positive, ongoing restrictions on international travel are going to continue to impact heavily on our sector. Many attractions are heavily reliant on international visitors, particularly those in traditional tourist ‘hotspot’ areas, so there will still be significant challenges for much of the sector until these restrictions are lifted.

“With the summer season being impacted by restrictions, it’s abundantly clear that there will be no full recovery possible for attractions in 2020. Recovery measures such as the planned introduction of the ‘Days Out’ incentivisation scheme, to encourage more domestic visitors to attractions in the off-season, will be very important to helping our sector recoup some of our losses in the main season. However, there’s no doubt that many will need additional support to make it through to next season. Our sector is the sector that will lead the full recovery of the tourism industry next year; it is therefore essential that our businesses are given the necessary support to help them make it through another difficult winter.’’

The First Minister’s full statement can be read here.

The Scottish Government’s updated Strategic Framework document published yesterday can be accessed at this link

The Review of Physical Distancing paper published by The Scottish Government yesterday can be found here

As advised earlier this week, the Scottish Government released updated guidance earlier this week for the collection of Customer and Visitor Contact details.
As a reminder, the key points that members should note are:

  • It is not mandatory for visitor attractions to take contact details for all visitors, but it is advised. The official guidance states: ‘Collecting contact details is voluntary, but it is important that both premises and individuals cooperate, as it is crucial to national efforts to suppress the virus’. Members should be cognisant of this and, where possible, look to continue to support the national efforts to suppress the virus.
  • It is mandatory however to collect details from anyone using hospitality settings in your attraction. In practice, this means if your attraction has a café or restaurant, you must either collect contact details from everyone upon entry into your attraction, or from everyone upon entry into your café/restaurant.  
  • In contrast to last year’s test & protect guidelines, the Scottish Government is now requesting that contact details be taken for every visitor, not just a ‘lead’ person.
  • The following data is to be collected from each visitor to your café/restaurant/other hospitality setting:
    • The name of each visitor
    • A contact phone number for each individual
    • Date of visit and arrival and, where possible, departure time.
    • If a customer does not have a telephone number, premises may give people the option to provide a postal address or an email address 

Following the publication of the guidance, ASVA contacted the Scottish Government to seek clarification on whether data from children also needed to be collected in hospitality settings (i.e. for any children entering an attraction’s café or restaurant). The Scottish Government has provided ASVA with the following response:
In hospitality settings, the collecting of data from all members of a party, including children is encouraged. The legal position is that the establishment is legally bound to collect, and legally bound to provide, if asked, details from a lead member of each household attending the premises. This applies regardless of the age of the lead member of the household. As an example, if a family took an unaccompanied child from a different household, they would need to provide their details, and if the establishments did not take these details, then the establishment is in breach. The breach is by the establishment – not the individual.  In all circumstances of course an individual can opt not to provide any contact details, but they should them not be admitted to your establishment.

This update means that, in the majority of cases, where a family is visiting an attraction’s café or restaurant, they would not have to provide details of minors. However, if for instance a group of three 14 year olds were to visit your café together, each should be asked for their contact details as they are from three different households.

The Scottish Government has also confirmed that where a child needs to be contacted, as a result of Test & Protect, the Test & Protect team would look to contact the parent/guardian first.   

The update also clarifies the position on collecting data from everyone visiting your café/restaurant. Whilst the guidance is that you should collect data from all visiting, the actual regulations are that only contact details from a lead person from each household are required (and again, please bear in mind it is only mandatory to collect this data in a hospitality setting, such as your café or restaurant). 

In terms of data collection, we would remind members of the Check In Scotland App. To help attractions meet their responsibilities with the new Test & Protect guidance, we would recommend the use of this app. It is, however, entirely up to attractions to make their own decisions about how they take visitor details and, indeed, whether they will take all visitors details, or just those using their hospitality facilities.

As many Scottish attractions prepare to welcome back visitors from Monday, we can reveal that the findings of our latest survey – conducted in partnership with the Moffat Centre For Travel & Tourism Business Development – highlight the extremely harsh realities our sector faces in re-opening and just how challenging its recovery will be.

The survey was sent out in the middle of April to 688 visitor attractions across Scotland, with a total of 342 surveys completed, providing us with very robust data.  A big thank you to all of you that participated, it is incredibly important to ASVA’s lobbying efforts that we have access to such robust data.  

The key results are:

  • 78.7% of the sector either intends to open at some point in 2021 or is already open
  • 12.6% of the sector does not anticipating opening at all this year
  • Of the attractions that have re-opened or will be re-opening, 55.8% will be open by the end of April 2021.  A further 20.8% will be open by the end of May
  • Of the 78.7% that are re-opening, fewer than 1 in 3 (27.1%) will be fully opening
  • Two thirds of the sector (65.4%) will be partially opening, with either reduced hours, weekends only or with some facilities closed
  • Of the two thirds of the sector partially re-opening, over 80% are unable to provide a date for when they think they will be able to fully re-open
  • Encouragingly, more than half of respondents (55.8%) stated that, once open, they intend to remain open for the rest of the year, thus extending the season 

It is encouraging that these findings indicate that the majority of the sector will be re-opening, however it is very concerning to learn that more than 1 in 10 attractions do not feel that it is possible to open this year.  It is equally, if not more concerning, that two thirds of the sector do not feel they will be in a position to fully open, with the majority stating that they will be forced to operate at reduced hours to keep costs down.

When viewed alongside the previous ASVA/Moffat Centre survey conducted in March to analyse recovery prospects for the sector, it is clear that the majority of attractions cannot fully open because it will not be economically viable to do so.  Results from the March survey highlighted that the continuation of 2m physical distancing will have economic consequences for the majority of our sector, with 54% of attractions either forced to remain closed or losing money when they do open as a result of the 2m distancing restriction.

As members will be aware, ASVA has been lobbying the Scottish Government robustly on this key issue and calling for the distancing restriction to be reduced to 1m at attractions in line with hospitality businesses.  As we highlighted in our last e-update, our meeting on Monday with the Deputy National Clinical Director, Dr John Harden, enabled us to emphasis the economic impact 2m distancing has and our latest survey findings were invaluable in equipping us to do this.  Noting all of the insights we provided, Dr Harden assured us he fully recognised the challenges faced by the attractions sector at present.  He also conveyed how impressed he was by the mitigating measures it has in place, and commended attractions for the approach they have taken towards visitor and staff safety.  Furthermore he provided assurances that 2m restrictions for our sector will be removed in the near future, just as soon as the relevant positive data comes in to provide proof that it is safe to do so.

Both the March and April surveys highlight the vulnerable position that many our sector are going to be in this year.  There can be no doubt that there will need to be continued, ongoing government financial support for considerable parts of the sector this year and we will continue to do everything in our power to secure this.

The results of the latest survey have been shared with the Scottish Government, VisitScotland, the Enterprise Agencies and other key stakeholder.

The report for April also contains a useful list of attractions that are reopening with dates of opening. We hope that members find this useful to help you align with other attractions in your area.

You can find the report here. It has also been added to the Statistic Reports and Research section of the Members Area of the ASVA website, where you will also find the results from the survey in March (and all previous survey results).

Whilst we are pleased that indoor attractions are being allowed to re-open on 26 April, ASVA remains very concerned about the impact of 2m physical distancing requirements.  As members will be aware we have been lobbying the Scottish Government on this key issue and calling for distancing restrictions at attractions to be reduced from 2m to 1m, in line with hospitality businesses.

This week our Chair, Susan Morrison, and CEO, Gordon Morrison, were pleased to meet with the Deputy National Clinical Director, Dr John Harden, organised to discuss what mitigating measures need to be put into place to ensure 1m distancing can be safely managed.

The meeting gave ASVA an excellent opportunity to emphasise the economic impact on the sector of 2m distancing – including the vital fact that 1 in 10 attractions will not be able to re-open under 2m distancing restrictions. Stressing the importance of the attractions industry to the recovery of tourism in Scotland, we revealed that 45% of our sector will not be able to trade at an economically viable level for as long as this restriction remains in place.

In addition, Gordon and Susan highlighted to the Deputy National Clinical Director the contribution that attractions make to public health and their importance to community wellbeing and involvement – providing a sense of place, generating civic pride, attracting local groups and families, educating, and hosting community activities.  We also detailed the opportunities that attractions offer to support mental health, providing places for people to visit and enjoy and enriching experiences.

During the meeting, Gordon and Susan discussed the impact of 2m distancing on capacities at attractions, and the inability for individual businesses, as well as the sector as a whole, to recover whilst these restrictions continue.  We also provided information on all the mitigating measures in place at attractions to reduce virus transmission, including timed ticketing, one-way routes, increased staff presence and enhanced cleaning protocols.

They also highlighted the illogical anomalies that currently exist due to the difference in distancing requirements for the hospitality and attractions sectors. Gordon advised Dr Harden that it is difficult to explain to visitors and staff why visitors can enter a café within an attraction and sit 1m apart from other patrons – without wearing a face covering – for a significant period of time but as soon as they leave the café, they have to ensure they remain 2m away from anyone, despite the fact that they are moving about (so there is limited dwell time) and are wearing face coverings.

Dr Harden noted all of the information and insights provided and made it clear that he fully recognised the challenges faced by the attractions industry at present. The Deputy Clinical Director also stressed how impressed he was by the mitigating measures our sector has in place, and he commended attractions for the approach they have taken towards visitor and staff safety.  

In terms of the 1m rule for hospitality, Dr Harden made it clear that this was introduced to allow people to be able to sit at a table together.  He emphasised that households had to remain 1m apart at their tables, and that when they rise from the table, they should put on face coverings and observe normal distancing rules.  The only reason the 1m dispensation was given for hospitality, he pointed out, was because it was unworkable for patrons to be able to sit at a table with 2m distancing.

Dr Harden advised that it was not yet possible to recommend a move from 2m to 1m distancing in attractions as the current data does not support it.  In response to Gordon and Susan asking when the evidence might support this move, he said:  “Test events are being run across the UK at present.  We will review the data and research from these test events and this will inform decision-making about our future easing of restrictions”. 

Dr Harden also noted that 2m restrictions for our sector would be removed as soon as it is safe to do so; he made it clear that he, like everyone else, wants to see things get back to normality as soon as the data allows.  To provide a note of optimism for our sector, he stated that the restriction could be relaxed quickly once the relevant positive data comes in.

Whist it is frustrating that the attractions sector must stay at 2m for the immediate term, the meeting served a purpose as it confirmed to ASVA that the sector cannot do any more in terms of mitigating measures, and we are doing everything that will be required if we are to see the relaxation of distancing restrictions.  The meeting also ensured that our sector is’ front of mind’ for the Scottish Government with regards to decisions on distancing restrictions being eased, and it provided assurances that we should see positive developments in the near future, data permitting.

The Scottish Government released updated guidance yesterday for the collection of Customer and Visitor Contact details.

The key points that members should note are:

  • It is not mandatory for visitor attractions to take contact details for all visitors, but it is advised. The official guidance states: ‘Collecting contact details is voluntary, but it is important that both premises and individuals cooperate, as it is crucial to national efforts to suppress the virus’. Members should be cognisant of this and, where possible, look to continue to support the national efforts to suppress the virus.
  • It is mandatory however to collect details from anyone using hospitality settings in your attraction. In practice, this means if your attraction has a café or restaurant, you must either collect contact details from everyone upon entry into your attraction, or from everyone upon entry into your café/restaurant.  
  • In contrast to last year’s test & protect guidelines, the Scottish Government is now requesting that contact details be taken for every visitor, not just a ‘lead’ person.
  • The following data is to be collected from each visitor to your café/restaurant/other hospitality setting:
    • The name of each visitor
    • A contact phone number for each individual
    • Date of visit and arrival and, where possible, departure time.
    • If a customer does not have a telephone number, premises may give people the option to provide a postal address or an email address

In terms of data collection, ASVA members will be aware that we have been promoting the Check In Scotland App in these updates since it was launched. To help attractions meet their responsibilities with the new Test & Protect rules, we would recommend the use of this app. It is however entirely up to attractions to make their own decisions about how they take visitor details and, indeed, whether they will take all visitors details, or just those using their hospitality facilities.  

For info, ASVA has asked the Scottish Government for clarity on whether data needs to be collected for child visitors as it is not clear at present if there is a ‘cut-off age’ for data collection. We recognise that there could be significant challenges with requesting the data of young people and have advised the Scottish Government of this. We will provide an update on this issue via this channel as soon as we have official clarification of requirements and recommendations.

Finally, concerning booking systems, the Scottish Government is strongly advising organisations to ensure they update their booking systems so that these can collect details of all visitors. It is fully understood, however, that it is unlikely that any changes will be able to be put in place ahead of re-opening.  Where tickets have been sold already, and only the details of a lead contact member have been collected, we have been assured there is no requirement to contact this group retrospectively for the details of all visitors.

For the updated guidance on Test & Protect in visitor attractions and other sectors, please click here.

The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced yesterday (20th April) that the planned relaxation of current restrictions planned from 26 April will go ahead and Scotland will move to Level 3 on Monday. The First Minister also outlined that Scotland will move to Level 2 on 17 May if cases continue to fall, and the plan is for the country to then enter Level 1 on 7 June.

The statement by MS Sturgeon confirmed that all indoor attractions are allowed to re-open from Monday, as are all public buildings such as galleries, museums and libraries and all shops. Hospitality venues can open until 8pm indoors (without alcohol) and 10pm outdoors where, subject to local licensing alcohol can be consumed. Numbers permitted at weddings, wakes and funerals increase from 20 to 50 people.

The other important development for our sector is that restrictions on travel are also being eased from 26 April to allow travel across Scotland and between Scotland, England and Wales. Restrictions on travel to and from Northern Ireland are also being lifted.

Ms Sturgeon also advised that rapid, lateral flow COVID-19 tests are urged for anyone planning to travel to the islands. International travel remains restrictions for non-essential travel remain in place until 17 May at least.

Tourist accommodation can re-open from Monday, however in self-catering the rules on indoor meetings (up to 6 people from a maximum of two households).

Concluding her statement, the First Minister said: “The changes that will come into force on Monday, building on the changes we have had in the last couple of weeks, have been really hard earned and long awaited.  So it is really important that as we enjoy these new restored freedoms we continue to be really careful and take all of the required precautions.

The full statement by the First Minister’s full statement can be read here.

ASVA has been consulting with the Scottish Government on a number of key issues regarding the reopening of the sector. One of these issues is whether samples of alcoholic beverages will be permitted within distillery/brewery experiences when the sector can re-open on 26th April. We are very pleased to confirm that, following lobbying by ASVA, supported by the Scotch Whisky Experience and Diageo, the Scottish Government has confirmed that samples of alcohol can be served as part of a tour experience in a drinks based attraction from 26th April. The guidance from the Scottish Government is that the samples must be served as a distinctive part of the tour experience and incorporated into the ticket price. It should not be possible for visitors to buy any additional alcoholic beverages to be consumed during the experience on top of the samples provided as part of the tour.  Whilst being served, all physical distancing and hygiene protocols must be followed.

On Tuesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced further easing of the current restrictions on travel throughout the country.  

From tomorrow, Friday 16 April, travel within Scotland for outdoor socialising, recreation and exercise will be allowed.  The relaxation of restrictions means that any outdoor attractions that are already open will be able to welcome visitors from across Scotland, with all relevant mitigations in place. 

Data permitting, the whole of Scotland, including all of our island communities, will be in Level 3 from Monday 26 April.  This means that non-essential travel between the mainland and islands, as well as between Scotland, England and Wales will be permitted, re-opening a much larger market for our sector. 

Indoor attractions now have a much firmer assertion that they can open again on, or from, 26 April.  It has also been confirmed that tourist accommodation can open from this date.

Another important change to the rules which comes into effect tomorrow is that outdoor meetings in groups of up to six adults from up to six households will be allowed, with under-12s not counting towards this limit. 

In her announcement, the First Minister advised that the easing of restrictions has been brought forward as a result of significant progress in reducing the number of new COVID cases in Scotland, partly due to the success of the vaccination programme, but also because so many people have stuck so well to the rules.  Daily cases are at the lowest level since September and have declined more than 85% since early January.  Ms Sturgeon urged caution, as restrictions are relaxed, to protect against resurgence of COVID-19, advising that people should take care to plan ahead with journeys and follow the FACTS advice when out and about.

Whilst ASVA welcomed news of the easing of restrictions and the impact this will have on our sector, we remain very concerned about the effect of 2 metre physical distancing at attractions.  A requirement of 2m distancing will make it impossible for many attractions to open viably on 26 April so we are continuing to lobby the Scottish Government on this key issue. Further details on our efforts to get distancing restrictions reduced can be found below, in the article ‘Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group discusses distancing’.  

To read the First Minister’s full statement on the easing of restrictions, click here.

The updated Strategic Framework Protection Level tables showing the route map for future easing of restrictions can be viewed at this link.

A number of attractions have raised questions about the COVID-19 rules for children’s activities in our sector.  ASVA has taken up the matter directly with Scottish Government officials who have now confirmed to us that children’s activities will be allowed to commence indoors from 26 April, as Scotland moves into Level 3.   

The Government’s official advice publication, ‘Guidance for the safe running of organised children and young people’ has been updated.  Including information on managing physical distancing and details of maximum group sizes, the document is available to access here.