As incoming Chair, I write to you knowing this is a time of unprecedented challenge to your business.
As a sector we have worked extremely hard, and across all organisations, to devise clear industry-wide operating protocols to manage the Covid risk and allow country sports to continue. In this regard, I thank all those estates who have gone the extra mile to ensure we can demonstrate our ability to responsibly mitigate our own risks.
However, the main challenges facing the sector have come from less specific measures and ones we are less well placed to address. Many members will have seen large volumes of cancellations from foreign guests, many subject to quarantine restrictions or simply not wanting to take the risk. The restriction of single households in self-catering accommodation now comes as a particularly bitter pill. SCSTG and other organisations have been vociferous in representing the sector’s interests and a joint SCSTG and BASC press release was issued on 24 September 2020 and endorsed by the Association of Scottish Self Caterers (ASSC). This was subsequently covered by articles in the Inverness Courier and the Telegraph.
Throughout the crisis we have worked closely with our partner organisations, particularly BASC, Scottish Land and Estates and the Scottish Tourism Alliance. We have expressed our concerns at ministerial level and, at all times, we have worked with the wider sector to find workable solutions to allow our industry to continue.
Field sports tourism revenue has a particular importance to the Scottish rural tourism sector, supporting the shoulder months and extending the overall tourism season. This seasonality was used as a justification for shootings and deer forests being excluded from the initial financial support packages given to all other industries at the time of lockdown. Government policy has subsequently prevented businesses from receiving this vital seasonal income and the next stage of our effort is to ensure a meaningful rescue package that protects vital jobs in highly rural areas. In demonstrating the importance of support, we need credible data to support our representations to minsters and I strongly urge all Providers to complete a short online survey as a matter of urgency via this LINK
Like that of many industries, the current situation appears daunting however recovery will come, and we need to be ready to seize those opportunities. As a result, our organisation is undergoing a significant strategic review with a particular focus on being ready to support the fight back for our sector, with an enhanced media and marketing focus and engaging new markets. We trust this will bring increased value to your business and the wider country sports tourism industry.
Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group
Link to Framework of Appropriate Covid – 19 Precautions for Country Sports – Updated October 2020
Link to Press Release
Links to Press Articles – Link; Link