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Bid to save historic Perthshire inn as Covid hits international tourism

The Struan Inn.
The Struan Inn.

The owner of a historic inn in Perthshire is bidding to save the venue by turning it into self-catering accommodation – after Covid hit its main market of international tourists.

Mary-Ann MacKinnon has lodged plans with Perth and Kinross Council to change the use of The Struan Inn at Calvine, five miles outside Blair Atholl.

It comes as she says the pandemic has killed off much of her custom – with the venue, dating from 1863, previously relying heavily on visitors from overseas.

90% of guests were international tourists

In a planning statement to Perth and Kinross Council, Ms MacKinnon said: “Pre-pandemic, approximately 90% of guests were international tourists staying for one night on the way to/from Edinburgh or Glasgow Airport.

“With uncertainty still remaining around international travel, however, many of our regular international visitors and agents have said they still do not have the confidence to visit Scotland due to the high Covid infection rates in the UK.

“Without this international travel, the inn is struggling to fill rooms going forward.”

Ms MacKinnon also says the pandemic has put off many of the mostly elderly customers who would previously dine at The Struan Inn – meaning there is a lack if income from meals.

Having let her last member of staff go in autumn 2020, Ms MacKinnon says the move to self-catering accommodation would allow the venue to operate without any additional workers, “therefore securing the future of the business”.

But there are hopes to return it to use as an inn when travel confidence improves.

The venue is currently closed as an inn.

If the plans are approved, the venue would keep four rooms with the current bar and restaurant area turned into a coffee lounge, and a library/leisure room.

Accommodation would be limited to eight people at a time in an effort to discourage large groups, like stag and hen parties, and create a “more family/couple-friendly style of accommodation”.

The plans for The Struan Inn – which has attracted a five-star rating on Trip Advisor – will be considered by Perth and Kinross Council in the coming months.

Series of holiday accommodation bids in Perth and Kinross

The application is one of several for holiday accommodation lodged in Perth and Kinross this year.

That includes proposals for holiday pods and a yoga studio at Coshieville Farm, to the west of Aberfeldy, and the transformation of Tomnauld Farm at Ballinluig.

In April, residents in Aberfeldy branded plans to transform a disused hospital in the town into holiday lets as a “huge slap in the face” for locals.

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