A north-east MSP has raised queries over support for Scotland’s tourism industry, after an Aberdeen hotel went into liquidation.
North-east MSP Liam Kerr raised the issue of support for the tourism industry at today’s First Minister’s Statement meeting after it was announced yesterday the Hilton DoubleTree Aberdeen City Centre near the beach would not reopen again after Covid-19 guidelines were lifted.
Mr Kerr asked the First Minister what support there was available for the former Hilton workers, and what assistance could be offered to the sector more widely.
He said: “Aberdeen was rocked by the news that the DoubleTree Hilton will immediately close with the loss of all jobs, citing difficult trading conditions which includes the current crisis but also punitive business rates.
“Scotland’s tourism industry will have noted at phase two, pubs and restaurants can open outdoor spaces with distancing and hygiene routines but as the First Minister made clear, it will be some time before tourism businesses generally open to full capacity so there is a very big risk that many will not survive between now and reopening.
“Will the First Minister remind the former Hilton employees what support is available and also what support can she offer the sector more generally until these lockdown measures allow full operation?”
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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I think it’s really important that the support that’s in place for individuals and businesses right now that we have warmly welcomed and translated into programmes here in Scotland continues for as long as it is necessary and that includes the job retention scheme, it includes all the grant routes that can help businesses right now and we will, over and above that, do as much as we can to support the businesses in the sectors that are going to be hit hardest for longest.
“But it is also why we want as safely as possible to support those businesses to start as well.
“The tourism sector is the importance of that to Scotland is definitely measured in pounds, but it is measured in so much more than that, it’s so fundamental to our perception of who we are as a country and our international standing as well, so supporting the tourism sector is going to be really important, as well as making sure we have tailored programmes of support to those who are going to take longer to come out of this.
“For employees, whether the Hilton in Aberdeen or for any business for employees facing redundancies as well as doing everything we can to avert those situations, our PACE initiative will always work with affected employees to try to support them into alternative employment as quickly as possible.”
Mr Kerr added: “There needs to be a change in the way the Scottish Government gives out lifeline relief to businesses during this pandemic because at the moment, it’s costing jobs and companies are struggling to stay afloat in Aberdeen.
“My thoughts go to the workers at the Hilton who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.”