VisitScotland's response to COVID-19
Tue, 06/23/2020 - 00:00

Visit Scotland: COVID-19 response, supporting the tourism businesses (Update 23/06)

  • Thomas Guillot
  • Tue, 06/23/2020 - 00:00

Visit Scotland is putting all its efforts in responding to COVID-19 by ensuring that tourism rebounds to become one of the most successful sectors of the Scottish economy once more, through the deployment of 8 measures, related to the following topics:

1. Advice and support
2. marketing
3. VisitScotland Expo 2020 cancelled
4. Contingency planning
5. Engagement
6. Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG)

7. Communication
8. Monitoring the situation

A one stop shop website has been established providing easy access to the above mentioned measures and related information:

The Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) has been reactivated to response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. 


Highlight the Scottish measures


NEW! “Tourism Destination and Sector Support Fund” to provide financial support for local and sectoral tourism organisations that are struggling because of the impact of COVID-19 on membership subscriptions.

In total, VisitScotland made £500,000 available for the fund, and a total of 81 organisations successfully applied for funding. Collectively, these organisations have 10,000 industry members, and are important in helping drive the visitor economy forward at local level. VisitScotland already works closely with these groups and will continue to do so as Scotland moves from the Response stage of the crisis to the Reset, Restart and Recovery stages.

The fund is in addition to the £2.3 billion package of government support for businesses across Scotland which includes measures specific to the tourism and hospitality industry such as a full year’s non-domestic rates relief and specific grant schemes which are not available elsewhere in the UK.

From April 2020: The Scotland Government has allocated a £100 million fund to support the self-employed and SMEs who are excluded from the UK’s scheme but suffering hardship (announced mid-April). The Fund  is  broken into 3 separate funds as follows:

£34 million Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund, managed by Local Authorities will be allocated to the newly self-employed facing hardship through £2,000 grants

£20 million Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund, managed by the Enterprise Agencies in partnership with Creative Scotland and VisitScotland for creative, tourism and hospitality companies up to 50 employees not receiving business rates relief. The fund will be managed by the Enterprise Agencies in partnership with Creative Scotland and VisitScotland and will provide a rapid access £3,000 hardship grants or larger grants up to £25,000 where it can be demonstrated support is needed.

£45 million Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, managed by the Enterprise Agencies for vulnerable SME firms who are vital to the local or national economic foundations of Scotland.


- VAT deferral for all businesses from 20 March until 30 June 2020.
- Income tax deferral
for the self-employed


- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Sheme (CBILS)
- Business rates relief
100% rates relief for occupied retail, hospitality and leisure businesses from 1 April 2020.
- Scottish Government cash grants
Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value between £18,000 to £51,000 will be able to apply for a one-off grant of £25,000
- Covid Corporate Financing Facility: 
The Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies, allowing companies affected by a short-term funding squeeze to finance their short-term liabilities
- Insurance: Businesses insured for both pandemics and government ordered closure should be covered
- Working with OTAS to support postponement, rather than cancellation, policies for bookings to Scotland.


Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: Employers can claim 80% for furloughed employees' (employees on a leave of absence) usual monthly wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS): is a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)  Rebate for all UK SMEs of up to two weeks' SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19


- A business advice team, consisting of our experienced Industry Relationship Managers and Quality & Tourism Advisors
- Delivering online support and education programmes for businesses, from webinars to virtual trade events
- Best practice advice on what to share on your digital channels (website and social media) and how to engage with customers
- Guidance specifically for event organisers in Scotland


Visit Scotland monitors periodically the current situation of COVID-19 and its impacts on tourism, through:

- Industry surveys
- Market intelligence report
- Feedback from events industry consultation


Campaign: “Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder” asking those with a love for/interest in Scotland to dream now and travel when the time is right, and it includes encouragement to share memories and experiences of Scotland until that time comes.

Identification of 4 phases to plan different activity to welcome the visitors back again.


Visit Scotland leads the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group providing united response to tourism recovery through the development of a National Action Plan.


Other Information of Interest

Visit Scotland: Response to COVID 19 - NECSTouR Webinar - 27/03

Regional Information
Regional Department Involved
Visit Scotland
Leading Region
Other Stakeholders Involved
Scottish Government
Project Information
Target Audience
General audience, SMEs, Tourism industry, OTAs