Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has welcomed the announcement by the Scottish Government of further support for self-catering businesses, a key part of Orkney’s tourism sector.
A new fund has been announced which will provide grants of up £10,000 to self-catering businesses across Scotland that have been ineligible for support to date.
Over recent months, Mr McArthur has consistently highlighted the plight of businesses that have ‘fallen between the gaps’ in the support provided by UK and Scottish Governments. He has also supported the campaign, led by the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, to extend the assistance available, including to many small businesses in Orkney.
Responding to the news, Mr McArthur said:
“The current pandemic has taken its toll on many local businesses in Orkney, none more so than those operating in our vital tourism sector.
“While the support made available by UK and Scottish Governments has been welcome, it has failed to reach many of the businesses in desperate need, including self-caterers.
“I raised concerns with Scottish Ministers that eligibility criteria often made it harder for isles-based businesses to access funds, notably in relation to the requirement for 140-days worth of bookings. In areas such as Orkney where the tourism season is traditionally shorter, that has proved to be proved problematic.
“I am pleased therefore that Ministers have responded by opening up this new fund and would encourage local self-catering businesses to apply, once the scheme opens on 3 August.
“Meantime, self-catering businesses also need clarity on the guidance around what to do in the event of visitors contracting Covid. To date, the guidance has been confusing and contradictory, making it difficult for businesses to know where they stand and whether or not to open up to visitors”.