Cash funding for Argyll and Bute tourism groups

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Tourism groups in Argyll and Bute have been awarded a share from a £500,000 support package from VisitScotland.

Local beneficiaries include Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative, Argyll Food Producers and Visit Bute.

Others to receive grants include the Colonsay Tourism Marketing Group, the Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance, Marketing Mull and Iona and the
Oban and Lorn Tourism Alliance.

Hendrik Wester, secretary of Visit Bute, said: ‘We applied for additional support as soon as it was announced by VisitScotland and are thrilled we have been awarded the funding.

‘Our island is very much dependent on the tourist business and the COVID-19 lockdown has a devastating effect. With the additional grant we are able to boost our marketing efforts as soon as that can be viable to support our business members to make most of the remaining season and continue to enhance branding the Isle of Bute as a favourite holiday destination.’

Launched by the national tourism organisation last month, a total of 81 organisations in Scotland applied for cash from the Tourism Destination and Sector Support Fund.

Applicants represent in excess of 10,000 tourism businesses and have been awarded grants to support their survival.

VisitScotland said the one-off fund was created in response to the ‘devastating’ impact of the pandemic on Scottish tourism.

A total of 98 applications were received requesting a total of £1.6 million.

Those who failed to meet the eligibility criteria received a letter explaining why and were signposted to other sources of funding and support, said VisitScotland.

The fund, which closed on May 22, was originally set at £400,000 but was increased to £500,000 owing to the volume of requests.

Successful applicants could be awarded up to 50 per cent of their membership income under threat due to coronavirus.

Riddell Graham, director of industry and destination development at VisitScotland, said: ‘This funding package for destination organisations and sector groups will hopefully go some way towards supporting them through this challenging time.

‘We are pleased to have been able to increase our original funding pot to enable us to provide some funding for all eligible applicants. Even then it is unsurprising that the number of applications has been in excess of what is available and as such difficult decisions have had to be taken.’

Fergus Ewing MSP, cabinet secretary for tourism, said: ‘Throughout, I have been engaging with businesses and listening to concerns to explore how we can best help them navigate this unprecedented crisis.

‘We have a long way to go but this funding package will be a welcome boost for destination management organisations and sector groups.

‘It will enable them to keep working with VisitScotland, tourism businesses and local communities to build a strong and safe recovery, welcoming visitors again in Phase 3 of the route map.’