The Scottish government has unveiled details of its long-awaited financial support package for travel agents.
Agents will be able to apply for grants of up to £25,000, depending on their rateable value. In total, £7.3 million will be made available to agents, with the pot also shared by brewers and indoor football centres.
Support for agents in Scotland was promised by finance secretary Kate Forbes in December following lobbying efforts by the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) and Abta.
SPAA members marched on Holyrood in November, calling for greater government support.
"The Scottish government recognises the specific challenges faced by this sector and one-off grants will be given through local authorities to eligible businesses," said the government on Wednesday (27 January).
Forbes added: "These funds recognise the unprecedented challenges that brewers, travel agents and indoor football centres have experienced since March as a result of necessary restrictions.
"We are acutely aware that this support can never compensate for the full impact on business, but we must work within the resources that are available to us, and we continue to respond to the evolving economic challenges arising from the pandemic."
Grants will be administered by local authorities; £10,000 will be available to premises with a rateable value of up to and including £18,000 and £25,000 for those with a rateable value of £18,001 or above.
Councils will brief around 400 eligible businesses on their potential entitlement and ask them to provide supporting information and bank account details, the government confirmed.
Business owners do not need to apply, or contact their local authority – unless they haven’t heard anything by 8 February and believe they are eligible.
SPAA council member Alan Glen, a previous president of the association, said further financial and operational support would yet be necessary, particularly with the introduction of further Covid measures such as hotel quarantine.
"We’re asking the UK and Scottish governments for further focussed and realistic financial support for the whole Scottish travel industry which is being annihilated due to its inability to trade," said Glen.
"Without further, and immediate, real-time support, the industry is on the verge of collapse. Where is the clear roadmap for the recovery of travel?"