£2.5m funding lifeline for Scottish marine, boating and outdoor industry

The Scottish Government has announced a £2.5m Covid-19 support package for the marine, boating and outdoor tourism sector.

Sail Scotland and the outdoor tourism group Wild Scotland have secured a £2.5m re-start grant scheme aimed at supporting businesses through the high expenditure period of recommissioning vessels, visitor moorings and visitor pontoons for the 2021 season. The scheme will also support land-based activity and adventure providers.

The scheme will open in mid to late January and will be administered by VisitScotland. It’ll provide grants to operators working across bareboat and skippered charter, fully inclusive sail/cruise holiday, day trips and adventure trips. Both inland and coastal operators will be eligible to apply for grants from £1,000 up to £15,000. In addition, operators of visitor moorings and visitor pontoons will be able to access grants between £1,000 up to £7,500.

“After months of pressing the case to the Scottish Government we are pleased the hardship faced by operators in the marine sector is being recognised,” says Alan Rankin CEO at Sail Scotland. “Recent industry surveys indicated over 75% of operators in the charter sector secured two months or less of trading in 2020. In addition, the lack of any movement on the 2m distancing made it unviable for many charter and sail and small cruise ship holidays providers to operate. Harbour groups and managers of visitor pontoon services faced a curtailed season, many of whom are not for profit groups and play a vital role in the world class sailing experiences Scotland is so renowned for.”

Tinkers Hole, Mull © Moonshadow Yacht Charter Ltd – Sail Scotland

“The fund is fantastic news,” says Anne Fraser, manager at Tobermory Harbour Association. “Marine tourism plays such a vital role in our coastal and island communities. It’s going to be a long winter but this fund will go some way to help with the recommissioning costs across the industry. We are working hard to get the harbour ready to meet Scottish Government guidelines and safely welcome our visitors back from Easter 2021. The West Coast has so much to offer sailing and cruising, we can’t wait to see those sails coming up the sound of Mull and to have a vibrant Tobermory Harbour once more.”

“The grants scheme is one element of our ‘three asks to government’,” says Rankin. “Our overall submission sought detailed solutions around workable rules, so allowing businesses to plan operational protocols that will support viable trade in 2021. We are also seeking a recovery marketing fund for 2021 to support the sector and the £2.5m recommissioning and re-start grant scheme that has been announced. Sail Scotland is seeking these three interventions to build confidence across the sector after what has been a very difficult year.”

Elgol Skye Springtide © Airborne Lens – Sail Scotland
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