As a sign of the tensions between hospitality providers and their would-be customers as the coronavirus lockdown is unwound, hoteliers on Skye are this morning (Tuesday July 14) asking visitors to show their support for the struggling hospitality industry as they prepare to reopen their doors tomorrow and over the rest of this week.
Last week, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced a temporary reduction in VAT for the hospitality industry from 20% to 5% (excluding alcohol sales).
This has led to many potential customers asking businesses to pass on the VAT reduction through lower prices, says destination management organisation, SkyeConnect.
At an online meeting, yesterday, (Monday 13th) organised by SkyeConnect, hoteliers from Skye and Lochalsh called for a recognition that the VAT reduction was designed to support struggling businesses that have not been able to trade for four months.
They have also had to make significant investment in additional furnishings and new cleaning technologies and products to enable them to operate safely under Government guidelines. In addition, most businesses have had to reduce capacity in order to meet the social distancing guidelines as well as facing the shortest season on record.
After the meeting Gary Curley, Director of the Sligachan Hotel, which is pictured above, spoke for the destination management group in calling for greater understanding.
“Passing on the VAT reduction in prices to customers in an environment where social distancing has reduced business capacity and overheads have increased, may not be possible for some businesses.
"The hospitality sector has been hit hard by this crisis and prices that reflect the operational environment will likely be a key factor in many businesses ability to survive and make it through to 2021.”
Wednesday July 15: The destination management organisation for Skye and neighbouring areas has welcomed comments made by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon at today’s Scottish Government Covid-19 briefing.
Yesterday, hoteliers on Skye asked visitors to show their support for the struggling hospitality industry. It followed several customer enquiries asking for hotels to reduce prices in line with the temporary VAT reduction announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
At today’s briefing, in response to a question from a BBC Journalist, the First Minister stated that the welcomed cut in VAT is designed to support businesses first and foremost, andasked that consumers should try to find ways to continue to support local businesses.
Cabinet Secretary, Fiona Hyslop followed this up by stating that it is for individual businesses to make their own decision on whether to pass on the VAT cut to customers.
A spokesman for SkyeConnect welcomed the statement. “This is a timely boost for the hospitality sector, coming on the day many businesses open their doors to customers for the first time in four months. Hotels, not just on Skye but across Scotland, have invested significantly in making their premises as safe as possible for visitors and staff. They have had little or no income this year and face the shortest summer season on record. This extra Government support in the form of a temporary VAT cut is welcome as our hospitality businesses strive to remain financially viable.”