Hard-hit shooting and fishing tourism industries have been handed a £1 million coronavirus fund boost by the Scottish Government.
The Scottish Country Sports Tourism Restart Fund was announced on Thursday after a pressure campaign from Dunkeld-based British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group (SCSTG).
VisitScotland estimate that the value of country sports tourism to the Scottish economy is £200m per year with 8,800 full-time equivalent jobs being supported by the industry.
Ross Ewing, BASC Scotland’s public affairs manager, described the fund as “pivotal” for the sector and the wider rural economy.
He said: “Businesses have endured significant hardships and little support since the pandemic began, and we are grateful to the Scottish Government and VisitScotland for making a dedicated fund available to the country sports tourism sector.
“The fund will play a crucial role in helping businesses to safeguard jobs and protect investment in rural areas.”
The fund aims to assist the hardest hit businesses in the country sports tourism sector.
Eligible businesses include sporting agencies, land-based sporting businesses, sporting guides and fishing charter operators
Applicants are required to prove that 75% of their annual turnover originates from country sports tourism activity – a requirement that will likely exclude estates which tend to have numerous income streams.
SCSTG chairman, Rory Kennedy, said: “This fund is a vital lifeline for Scotland’s country sports tourism sector.
“After a painful year, the fund will give the hardest hit businesses the means to survive. Various other rural sectors rely heavily on country sports tourism, so it is vital that its significant contribution is protected as far as possible.
“The Scottish Government’s decision to rectify the lack of sector support is very welcome indeed, and we would like to thank VisitScotland for their speed in bringing this fund to fruition.”
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