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November 18, 2021
SKYECONNECT SURVEY REVEALS CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM FOR THE RECOVERY OF TOURISM
An end of season survey of businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector has revealed signs that the industry is beginning to recover from the effects of the pandemic. However, there are notes of caution about the time it will take to see business return to pre-Covid levels and the impact of additional challenges such as staffing and housing.
Eighty-eight business across all sectors of the industry responded to the survey that was sent out in the first week of November.
70% of respondents say they are optimistic for the future of tourism with over half saying 2021 has exceeded their business expectations. Not surprisingly, three quarters of businesses reported increased turnover in 2021 compared to 2020.
Two-thirds of businesses responding to the survey have sufficient resources to survive the winter, with just short of 60% planning to stay open throughout the winter months.
However, there is less optimism about the speed of the recovery. Only 30% of businesses say advance bookings give encouragement that business will return to pre-Covid levels in 2022 and only 16% believe we will see normal levels of visitors from abroad next year.
The survey reveals three key issues of concern facing the industry. One in three businesses say staffing has been a significant issue that has impacted on the quality of service they can offer. The lack of affordable housing is seen as one of the key issues impacting on the ability to recruit staff, with 64% of respondents saying increasing the stock of affordable housing on Skye should be the number one priority for The Highland Council and the Scottish Government.
The third issue causing concern within the industry is Government plans to introduce a licensing scheme for short-term lets. 68% of businesses are concerned about the plans with almost 20% saying they will leave the industry if licensing is introduced.
SkyeConnect’s Chair, Dave Till, says the survey results will help shape the DMO’s advocacy strategy for the coming months.
“The end of the peak season is always a good time to take stock and gain an insight into business sentiment. I am pleased to see a fair degree of optimism and it’s great that so many hospitality providers have seen business levels exceed expectations this year. It’s to be expected that there will be concern about what 2022 will bring, especially the uncertainty surrounding the overseas market that is so important to the Skye economy. SkyeConnect will continue to work with all relevant bodies to find solutions to the staffing and housing issues that are impacting heavily on business operations.”