Tourism programme swamped by applicants

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Thousands of people on furlough or made redundant in Scotland’s crisis hit tourism and hospitality industries have signed up for a new online training programme.

The Tourism and Hospitality Talent Development Programme received 2,000 applications for just 950 places – putting the organisations involved in the difficult position of having to turn away more than 1,000 applicants.

However, additional funding has been secured to extend the number of places thanks to the Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland.

The industry is said to be experiencing a ‘mental health crisis’ and widespread unemployment.

The programme is being delivered online by the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland and the Scottish Tourism Alliance.

It is one of the key recommendations to government made by the Tourism Task Force on how to support tourism and hospitality recovery in Scotland.

The aim is to give the future leaders of Scotland’s tourism industry the ‘skills, knowledge and networks’ to make an impact when the sector moves into recovery.

The training got under way with 80 cohorts of 25 people from 600 tourism businesses logging on – making it the largest virtual training course ever to take place in Scotland, according to the Scottish Tourism Alliance.

Fergus Ewing, cabinet secretary for tourism at the Scottish Government, said: ‘This is the biggest mobilisation of this type of course for tourism and hospitality staff ever seen in Scotland.

‘I’m pleased to see such an enthusiasm for enrolment and in light of demand, hopefully we can see more schemes launched in the future.’

David Cochrane MBE, chief executive of HIT Scotland said it would give people the skills and mental resilience to hit the ground running when the recovery comes.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the STA said Scotland’s tourism industry had been ‘decimated’ by the pandemic with morale at an ‘all time low’.

He added: ‘However, the volume of applications is testament to the passion for learning and development within our industry, and the desire within Scotland’s tourism workforce to remain within the sector.  Life has changed so much from everything we knew, our ‘new world’ will look entirely different, as will Scotland’s tourism product.’