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A VisitScotland director has said a lot of preparatory work needs to be done before local communities are ‘ready and willing’ to accept tourists again.
David Adams McGilp, regional director for Argyll and the Isles, said while he understood the ‘urgency’ to look beyond lockdown and get things restarted, the safety of staff, customers and the wider community of Argyll and Bute was ‘paramount’.
Mr McGilp said: ‘It’s clear there’s a really important balance to get right here. We want to help tourism businesses survive and get back on their feet but the safety of staff, customers and the wider community is paramount.’
Argyll and Bute contributes nearly half a billion pounds of revenue to the visitor economy, and eight out of 10 visitors are from the UK, he said, adding: ‘We are well placed once Scots are allowed to get out and about again.’
He added: ‘One thing that’s kept me going through these challenging weeks is the sense of community businesses have been showing.’
He praised the roles of Whitetail Gin Distillery on Mull and Islay’s Spirited Soap which have made hand sanitiser. He also said The Harbour Inn on Islay had delivered food and supported vulnerable people. Glenegedale on Islay had been contacting other local businesses to help and assist with mental health tips and advice.
He also said he had been impressed at the ‘innovation’ businesses had shown from The Puffer Bar and Restaurant on Easdale to TES Coll. The Tree Shop in Cairndow had also been able to take orders and make deliveries. The Yellow Hare Café on Tiree had also launched a baking delivery service, with home baking being delivered by owner Kate MacLeod.
More than 250 boxes were baked and delivered within the first month – reaching locations as far as London and Devon, said Mr McGilp.
‘Tragically, this virus is having a terrible human cost and is devastating for our tourism and events industry. But what will get us through only when the time is right to accept visitors, is the passion we have for our region, the enterprising spirit of our operators and our welcoming communities.’