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Highland hostel owners are calling for the Scottish government to recognise the challenges faced by the sector by allocating additional support.
Scottish Independent Hostels (SIH), a group of 86 hostels located in rural and
island communities throughout Scotland, fear their businesses are being ‘left behind and forgotten’ as the rest of hospitality industry gets back on its feet after the lockdown.
Gregor Barclay from SIH member Saddle Mountain Hostel in Invergarry is the co-author of a report outlining the case for further financial support which has been submitted to the Scottish Government and sent to all MSPs and MPs with one or more of our hostels in their constituency.
‘No other type of accommodation offers the facilities which our members do
and in many of the communities where they are located there is no other budget
accommodation,’ he said.
‘We risk a whole tier of accommodation being wiped out before the 2021 season begins.
‘That is why we are asking the Scottish Government to recognise our unique situation and allocate enough additional support to see our members through the next few months.’
In a normal July, Scotland’s hostels would be packed with a mix of overseas visitors, families, backpackers, Munro baggers, long distance walkers, cyclists and other outdoors enthusiasts. This year many stand virtually empty.
The report argues the communal nature of hostels means they are affected more severely than other types of accommodation.
‘Covid-19 has led the Scottish Government to set out guidelines affecting
how tourist businesses should be run. These are based on rules about social
distancing and who can meet indoors,’ explained Mr Barclay.
‘Currently, hostels can offer only private rooms, fewer rooms in total, one
household group per room and no or very restricted access to shared
‘Other accommodation providers can still offer their normal product, but
A survey by SIH of its members shows 33 per cent think that without additional government support they will have to close down before spring 2021.
Gregor Barclay and Helen Cunningham from Saddle Mountain Hostel.
NO_F31_Saddle Mountain Hostel photo