Worrying times for tourist trade

All tourist facilities on Arran are closed as this photograph of a deserted crazy golf in Brodick shows.

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We are all struggling with the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic, the lockdown and the uncertainty of the future.

But spare a thought, if you would, for those who rely on the tourist trade on Arran, and elsewhere, for their livelihoods. Or as they are finding in these troubled times, what livelihoods?

It’s not just the hotel, restaurant, B&B, self-catering, campsite owners etc who are affected, but shopkeepers and suppliers and everyone who relies on these businesses to put food on the table for their families.

A mere glance at the results of the business survey, produced on behalf of VisitArran this week, shows just how tough this year is likely to be, with some already writing off the entire 2020 summer season.

As many as a third of tourist establishments on the island risk being out of business by the end of the year unless they get the urgent help that they need.

Yes, there is government assistance out there, but worryingly 44 per cent of the businesses surveyed were not able to apply for COVID-19 grant support.

Of course, not too much can be read into one small survey. However it does drive home what most people in the industry already knew.

And there is another dilemma. While tourism needs visitors – just when is it going to be safe to allow them back on Arran? As one business told the survey: ‘It is not appropriate to market the island this year. Would be nervous of opening up too soon.’

Worrying times for the tourist trade indeed.