Hotel fears as Scotland’s travel ban becomes law

Mark Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance

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Hotels across Scotland are gearing up to close down until the end of January because of the travel ban across large swathes of the country, tourism leaders have warned.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said the travel restriction for people living in tier three and four areas, and the alcohol ban for many hotel restaurants, has left many operators with ‘no option’ but to either shut until December 11 or close until the end of January.

Eleven local authorities in Scotland moved from level three to level four on Friday November 19 until December 11. These include Glasgow, Stirling, West Lothian and parts of Renfrewshire, Dunbartonshire and Ayrshire.

It has also become officially illegal for people living in level four and three places, such as Edinburgh and Dundee, to travel outside their own council area unless it’s for an ‘essential purpose,’ such as work or caring responsibilities.

People living outside of a level three or four area are not allowed to travel into one, except for an essential purpose.

Visitors from England are also being told to ‘avoid travel’ to places elsewhere in the UK and not leave home for holidays or stays overnight – unless permitted by law.

That includes those staying in a second home or caravan.

Mr Crothall said he had taken ‘several calls’ from hoteliers and hotel associations since the First Minister’s announcement on Tuesday November 17.

He said: ‘The hotels I’ve spoken to have told me cancellations are already flooding in as guests remain unsure of what will or won’t be possible.

‘All are running the numbers to establish whether it is viable to stay open and with demand already very low for this time of year, it would seem highly likely most will close for at least the next few months.’

Miss Sturgeon said the tier system in place across Scotland allowed it to avoid a national lockdown. The measures were aimed at ensuring the virus was not spread from high to low prevalence areas. Scotland has seen more than 80,000 cases of coronavirus with the death toll expected to pass 5,000, she said.

She said: ‘If we see evidence people from East or South Ayrshire are visiting places in North Ayrshire, or that people from Glasgow are going to Inverclyde, we would have no choice but to consider level four too, and we don’t want to do that. So it is essential we all abide by travel restrictions.’