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Tour guides affected by the pandemic can now tap into a £3 million fund.
The Scotland’s Tour Guides Fund opened to applications at noon on March 3.
It aims to help tour guides prepare for reopening when possible. Successful applicants will receive up to £5,000 per business.
Applicants must be Scottish-based and conduct at least 75 per cent of their business, such as guided tours, activities and experiences, within Scotland.
Riddell Graham, director of industry and destination development at VisitScotland, said: ‘The Scottish tourism industry has been devastated by the Coronavirus pandemic. Tour guides are an important part of the visitor experience.
‘It is their informed local knowledge and personal connection which feeds into visitors’ pursuit of a transformational experience, in which they seek an immersive experience while understanding the needs of locals and the environment.
‘This fund will provide essential support for tour guides under severe financial strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions who have been unable to provide in-person visitor experiences.’
Linda Arthur, chairwoman of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association, said: ‘Scottish Tourist Guides have had virtually no work for the past year and this funding will provide much-needed support. As professional guides, we put the human face onto the interpretation of Scotland’s history, understanding of the landscape and what it is like to live here.
‘STGA guides have an important role to play in the recovery of tourism and we are looking forward to getting back to what we do best – providing high quality experiences that showcase Scotland and really make a difference to our visitors.’
The Scottish Tourist Guides Association was founded in 1959 and has more than 500 members whose members do a variety of work including taking visitors on walking tours, coach tours and driver guided tours. Blue Badge Guides are qualified to take people anywhere in Scotland and Green Badge guides are qualified for specific regions such as Orkney.
The fund is being administered by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Industry bodies including Wild Scotland, Wilderness Scotland and the Cairngorms Business Partnership also helped shape the criteria.
At the end of last year, the Scottish Government announced that tourism and hospitality businesses across Scotland were to benefit from a £104.3 million package.
An additional £25 million of funding was announced by the Scottish Government on February 11 to help businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector.
Full details on the fund, eligibility criteria and what information applicants will need to prepare for their application, can be found at https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/funding/tour-guide-fund