A north-east tourism industry chief has said the region could benefit from increased tourism post-lockdown.
Frank Whitaker, the new chairman of the Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels Association, believes people are less likely to want to travel abroad in the aftermath of Covid-19.
He believes that could lead to an increase in the number of people travelling to visit the north-east from other parts of Scotland and the rest of the UK as an alternative to international breaks.
And Mr Whitaker, general manager of the Park Inn by Radisson, urged the region’s tourism sector to take advantage – after lockdown restrictions are lifted.
He said: “Although we need to be careful about the messaging we are sending out at the moment, we want to tell people this is a fantastic region to travel to, experience and explore.
“We want people to feel confident about coming here. Over the next few years international travel isn’t going to be what it was so hopefully we can capitalise on that and encourage more people to visit the north-east.
“Getting the message out about what is on our doorstep is really important and it is going to be crucial maintained because that is what is going to ensure businesses are able to survive after the current circumstances.”
He added: “The Scottish Tourism Alliance have done a great job in getting the message out. That message about what’s on our doorstep is really important and maintaining the quality of that will provide massive support to the tourism industry of the north-east.
“People come here, they go and look at how great the attractions are and then it snowballs from there.
“Everything we do now is key to our future success.”
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The coronavirus crisis has put the future of many businesses in the north-east in a perilous position, and Mr Whitaker called for the industry to be listened to as the region looks ahead to the move out of lockdown.
He said: “There is no doubt this is a challenging time but I think we have already managed to demonstrate the hospitality industry in the north-east has a significant voice in terms of influencing factors that have a bearing on our businesses.
“The coronavirus pandemic has really meant we have had to increase the volume of that voice to make sure everything that’s happening in terms of trying to mitigate the economic and health impacts sees the hotel sector front and centre.
“It’s going to be very difficult to move forward from this but what we are going to do is continue to make sure we are integrating with all the other business networks.
“We have a seat on the Scottish committee for UK Hospitality, and because of that we are able to feed into both the UK and Scottish Governments.
“We are also working very closely with VisitAberdeenshire on what marketing activity for the region we are going to support.”
VisitAberdeenshire chief executive Chris Foy said the organisation is working hard to provide the best possible experience for future visitors to the north-east.
He said: “The first steps on the path to recovery are to understand what visitors might want to see and experience, as well as the needs of tourism businesses as they enter unchartered waters.
“The tourism and hospitality sector is facing stark challenges, and will continue to do so in a post-lockdown environment for a significant amount of time.
“We are currently surveying local suppliers to help us shape a tourism recovery programme for the north-east, while preparing marketing activity to attract locals and domestic visitors to spend time and money in our economy as soon as businesses can reopen.”