Help available for hostels

VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead.

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Funding worth £2.3 million has been set aside for the hostels’ sector in Scotland, which has suffered as a result of Covid-19.

The Hostel – Covid-19 Business Support and Continuity Fund aims to provide a safety net to keep hostel businesses operating while restrictions on opening and travel are in place, then be trade-ready when it is safe for travel to return.

The fund is part of The Scottish Government’s £104.3 million allocation to support the tourism and hospitality sectors.

The one-off grant for hostels is being delivered on behalf of the Scottish Government by VisitScotland, with input from Scottish Independent Hostels, Hostelling Scotland and Independent Hostels UK.

Hostels provide an affordable and sociable way for visitors to experience some of the best locations in Scotland.

Communal facilities and shared spaces are designed to encourage interaction between guests but social distancing and restrictions on household groups have made it challenging for premises to trade.

The fund is open to proprietors of hostels that either own or lease their business premises and are a registered business or charity.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: ‘The pandemic is having a long-term and devastating impact on tourism and the industry will need significant support now and for some time into the future.

‘For tourism to be truly accessible to everyone, we need to have a range of accommodation to suit any budget and hostels provide a unique kind of shared visitor experience that can create lifelong memories and friendships.

‘But social distancing measures and restrictions on household numbers mixing means it is difficult for hostels to operate.

‘Our focus for the immediate future has switched from marketing to funding to ensure the nine funds we are administering get to businesses as quickly and efficiently as possible. Colleagues from across our organisation have been diverted from their usual roles to this vital task.’

In a joint statement on behalf of Scottish Independent Hostels, Hostelling Scotland and Independent Hostels UK, a spokesperson said: ‘On behalf of the Scottish hostel sector we would like to thank the Scottish Government for this dedicated financial support.

‘It shows it appreciates the severe difficulties which individual hostels and hostelling itself are facing during the pandemic. This lifeline recognises the vital role hostels play in Scottish tourism and their contributions to the economy.

‘We also thank VisitScotland for working with us to ensure the fund makes a difference to hostelling businesses and their communities.

‘We will continue to work together as a sector and look forward to engaging constructively with the Scottish Government as we face the challenges that lie ahead.’

Businesses which meet all the eligibility criteria will be able to submit an application until noon on Tuesday March 2 via VisitScotland.org.

Guidance is available at visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/funding/hostels-support-fund

For further information of VisitScotland’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, go to www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/advice/coronavirus