The British Association for Shooting and Conservation,
Kate Forbes MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Finance
Fergus Ewing MSP
Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Tourism
The Scottish Government,
St. Andrew’s House,
Dear Cabinet Secretaries,
CONTINUED INABILITY OF COUNTRY SPORTS TOURISM BUSINESSES TO ACCESS COVID-19 FINANCIAL SUPPORT
I write to you today on behalf of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) to make you aware of a deepening crisis within Scotland’s country sports tourism sector.
At the end of 2020, we welcomed the Scottish Government’s intention to provide further support to businesses across Scotland to help them contend with the impact of Covid-19 restrictions. These stringent but necessary restrictions came into force in the middle of the game shooting season – the worst possible time for providers of country sports tourism – and led to a dramatic cessation in activity and significantly modified operations. The indication that government support would be forthcoming was most welcome.
BASC anticipated that the strategic framework business fund and the various funds making up the tourism and hospitality lifeline would have relevance to country sports tourism businesses. Regrettably, it has transpired that this is not the case. Since the funds were announced, we have been inundated with correspondence from members who have been rejected from the strategic framework business fund. Elsewhere, we have scrutinised the detail surrounding the marine and outdoor tourism restart fund and have discovered that country sports tourism businesses are excluded. Details surrounding these rejections and exclusions are available at Annex A.
The cumulative impact of these circumstances mean that country sports tourism businesses currently have no means of obtaining financial support, despite enduring an acute loss of income and increased running costs associated with feeding surplus gamebirds. The situation is unprecedented and businesses are at crisis point. We have genuine concerns that country sports tourism businesses will fold if support is not made available in short order.
As the Cabinet Secretaries responsible for the aforementioned funds, we urge you to intervene to ensure country sports tourism providers can access financial support without delay. This is the second time we find ourselves writing to you to rectify an exclusion – inadvertent or otherwise – of country sports tourism businesses from financial support. We are particularly disappointed that they been left behind despite representations made directly to Mr Ewing on 4th November 2020.
We appreciate that you are contending with a rapidly evolving and extraordinary situation, but you cannot justify leaving country sports tourism businesses in the lurch for an unprecedented second time. These businesses are the cornerstones of our rural economies – denying them the support they need will have ramifications that extend far beyond the realms of country sports. It is in the best interests of the rural economy to ensure country sports tourism businesses get the support they deserve.
We hope you will address this matter with utmost urgency, and we look forward to hearing from you.
Public Affairs Manager (Scotland)
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation
Annex A – Details Surrounding the Rejection and Exclusion of Country Sports Tourism Businesses from Financial Support:
The Strategic Framework Business Fund:
Marine and Outdoor Tourism Restart Fund: