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December 15, 2020

SkyeConnect Bitesize – 15th December

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It’s been a busy couple of weeks since we were last in touch. While protocols between the various tiers and devolved administrations continues to cause confusion at least the news around the availability of vaccines and a campaign of vaccination is positive. Here are a few snippets from SkyeConnect’s work in recent weeks:

–    A successful meeting with Kate Forbes MSP held on 27th November covered issues related to grant support for business across all sectors, regional differentiation in COVID protocols, digital connectivity and local infrastructure. The meeting had a number of ‘unfinished business items’ and we are pleased to announce that we will be meeting again on Monday 21st.  Outstanding items include Brexit, Aquaculture, Short Term Let legislation and probably a review of many of the issues she announced in her statement to the Scottish Parliament on the 9th Dec, which can be found here.

–    A successful AGM attended by 18 individuals including directors saw ratification of accounts, Chair, Communications and Project Manager reports along with nomination of 7 new directors. Community trusts and voluntary organisations are now represented by Becky Milne (Broadford and Strath CC) and Carol Anderson (Raasay House and Raasay Tourism Association). The new directors from the business community are: Meena Watts (Isle of Skye Sea Salt), Jasper Buxton (Viewfield House), Simon Cousins (Simon Cousins media), Jonathan Parkin (Carters Rest), Matthew Jackson (Sonas Hotels group). Anne Gracie, a founding director of SkyeConnect stepped down with many thanks from all present at the meeting.

–    We attended the quarterly STA (Scottish Tourism Alliance) meeting with guest Fergus Ewing MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism. Representation to the Cabinet Secretary covered a range of issues including:

•    Need to recognise that many businesses are closing due to lost markets as a direct result of tier system and travel restrictions – currently voluntary closures are unable to apply for funding support. The reality is that many businesses have had no option but to close

•    A request to Scottish Government for an explanation of their strategy in relation to the tier system in order to enable businesses to plan

•    A request for a Hogmanay policy similar to a Christmas policy

•    A request for evidence of the level of COVID 19 spikes that can be attributed to hospitality. The meeting called for recognition that hospitality has clearly demonstrated that it can operate a safe environment for social interaction. This acknowledgement should be part of restriction discussions in the future

•    November / December is the normal lead in time for bookings for next season. The tourism sector currently operates in an environment where there is minimal promotion, a plethora of mind boggling and complex rules, travel bans within Scotland and from England, confusion on vaccination roll out and the delay to publication of ferry timetables for Summer 2021 for the west coast and northern isles (expected 16th Dec for CalMac, life is not easy

•    A call for a political decision on the level of risk acceptable once the most vulnerable have been vaccinated against COVID 19 – Would it be possible to loosen restrictions and accept the virus like seasonal flu thereby allowing life to return to a more normal status?

•    Brexit brings additional challenges as the industry does not wish Scotland to be a difficult destination for EU visitors which is likely to be the case if the current confusion and complications continue with movement restrictions

–    Launched last week, VisitScotland’s Love Local campaign aims to support the tourism and hospitality industry through the winter by showcasing the products and experiences available on our doorsteps. Information on the campaign can be found here. Businesses with a specific offer can feature on the social tiles at the bottom of  www.visitscotland.com/lovelocal They simply need to complete the form on this page – scroll down to ‘Here’s how you can get involved’. This campaign will lead into spring/summer activity for 2021 which is currently in planning. SkyeConnect has been awarded some funding and will be running a similar ‘local’ campaign for Skye and neighbouring areas over the coming months.

–    SkyeConnect will be hosting a B&B and Self-Catering operators meeting on Wed 16th December at 11 am via Zoom. The meeting will include presentations from Ryan Felber and Bryony Beck from Energy Savings Trust on grants and interest free loans for Energy saving and carbon reduction technologies including Electric vehicles for businesses. In addition, we will carry out a review of the 2020 season, identifying any issues of concern and other matters raised as a result of the many surveys completed by local businesses during the last 9 months (Many thanks to all of you who completed responses!!!). You can register in advance for this meeting at the link below. https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcld-6rrTIsHNHLPUzxabUcfx5eyfA8D4T4

– The Skyetime Podcast is taking a break for a few weeks in December and early January. When it returns it will have a more outward facing approach and provide a platform for individual businesses and hospitality providers to promote themselves. If you would like to feature on the Podcast in 2021 please email simon@simoncousinsmedia.co.uk

Best wishes

Alistair

Project Officer – alistair@skye-connect.com

 

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