Stark new research
‘No evidence of boom’ say Scots tourism firms
Hotels are seeing low occupancy levels
Tourism businesses in Scotland say there is no evidence of a significant uplift in bookings despite recent speculation that the sector is set for a boom this summer.
As the sector begins to reopen following the year of lockdown research by the Scottish Tourism Alliance paints what it calls a “stark picture” highlighting low levels of occupancy for the next three months.
The STA surveyed 271 businesses directly and found that 30% took the decision to remain closed from the 26 April; of those, 31% have said that they do not plan to reopen next week when restrictions will ease further.
The organisation’s research highlighted an extremely slow start to accommodation bookings; between 41 – 45% of accommodation providers who responded indicated that over the course of May, June and July, occupancy is sitting at below 20%.
Two-thirds (62%) of rural hotels have less than 50% occupancy for May and just 26% of rural hotels have indicated that they will have 60%+ occupancy for this month. The picture is almost identical for June and for July, 54% of rural hotels indicate that their occupancy will be lower than 50%; just 30% have said they expect occupancy of 60%+.
Predicated occupancy levels in the cities is “worryingly low”, said the STA, with 94% of hotels in cities reporting occupancy levels of below 50% in May, 98% of hotels in cities are reporting occupancy levels of below 50% in June and 87% of city hotels are reporting occupancy levels of below 50% in July.
This is also reflected in data which shows forward occupancy levels for Glasgow hotels sitting at just 14% for May and June, dropping to 13% in July and rising slightly to 15% in August. The picture is similar in Edinburgh with May occupancy at 19%, June 20%, July 19% rising to just 22% in August.
Of the 271 businesses surveyed by the STA, 38% said that their average gross food and beverage takings since reopening are below 20% and just 11% of respondents are taking between 76 – 100% of the norm.
Recent media reports have pointed towards a boom in tourism in Scotland however the latest research conducted by the STA, the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA), the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) and Wild Scotland, the trade body representing the adventure tourism sector shows that the industry is far from recovery and in many respects, is in a worse position now than it was a year ago.
According to research published by the ASSC which gleaned 262 responses, larger self-catering properties that rely on multiple households have been under either full closure or restricted trading since the first lockdown on 24 March 2020 and will continue to be affected until at least end of June 2021 according to the current route map, having only been able to enjoy ten viable weeks of trading.