The 13th of April saw the STA hold a member forum via zoom to discuss how businesses can best approach re-opening safely and responsibly for potential visitors and the wider community. The industry wholeheartedly welcomes the clarity which finally came yesterday for the isles tier levels. Although the situation is still far from ideal businesses can now plan their next steps.
The meeting focused very much on the practicalities of how different types of tourism businesses can re-open. Information was shared on how to access clear, up-to-date government and sector guidance for a diverse range of businesses. Visit Scotland’s Industry Relationship Manager for Orkney and Shetland, Lee Inkster, spoke on Visit Scotland’s initiatives, such as the Good to Go scheme, designed to support the hospitality industry in re-opening safely. She highlighted the importance of careful planning, staff training and clear information for both visitors and potential visitors.
The meeting also heard from individual members on the measures they have implemented to ensure their business is operating in a Covid-safe manner to guarantee visitors can return while doing everything in their power to protect staff and our community.
Shetland Tourism Association chairperson, Emma Miller said “It was fantastic to see so many of our members come together yesterday to discuss in a largely positive way how things can move forward for our industry. While there are still some gaps in the guidance for some sectors, these areas have been identified and are being addressed. There is a very clear understanding among providers that opening up services for local people and visitors to our islands needs to, and will be, done in a careful, safe and responsible manner.”
There was a general feeling of positivity that we will see visitors gradually return to Shetland this summer and that the industry is well prepared to welcome them safely. Self-catering properties and smaller accommodation providers are seeing a lot of interest, with steady bookings for later in the summer. Many also warmly welcomed the continued support they are seeing from locals planning staycations in Shetland and making full use of the services available.
Steve Mathieson, Visit Scotland’s Shetland Development Manager, said “It was great to hear from tourism providers just how much effort they have put into their risk assessments and ensuring that regulations are followed to keep visitors, staff and the local community as safe as possible during and after the opening up process. The whole industry is far more knowledgeable this year than last and the messaging from bodies like VisitScotland and Shetland Tourism Association is united in emphasising that responsible tourism is the way forward, maintaining Shetland as a safe and welcoming destination for visitors whilst ensuring that the health and welfare of staff and the local community is paramount.”
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