A report just issued by The Advisory Group on Economic Recovery chaired by Benny Higgins has urged the Scottish Government not only to consider a targeted reduction in business rates to support the hospitality sectors’ recovery and a reduction in VAT but also suggests the possibility of the Government, working in partnership with tourism and hospitality industries, taking some hotels into Government-ownership citing the example of the state-owned ‘Parador’ hotel model in Spain – a state-owned profitable hotel group set up in 1928.
The 70+ page report, titled, ‘Towards a robust, resilient wellbeing economy for Scotland’, sets an economic recovery plan to take Scotland forward.
Barry Higgins, Chair of the Advisory Group, says in his introduction, “If the monumental scale and nature of this economic shock is not a catalyst to accelerate change and to find new bold, radical interventions that will transform Scotland’s economy, then nothing ever will be. We must be willing to revisit old demarcation lines without bias, and to discover new methods and levels of collaboration as we navigate our path of rehabilitation, recovery, and re-imagination.”
The report lays bare the issues the hospitality industry is facing and suggests, “that the Scottish Government should consider a targeted reduction in business rates for tourism establishments; and should press the UK Government to consider a targeted and temporary reduction in VAT to support the sector’s recovery.”
The Group also urged the Scottish Government to put jobs and training, especially for young people, at the heart of economic recovery plans.
On the subject of taking hotels into government ownership, the report says, “There are a wide range of ownership models for tourism and culture facilities at present, covering private and public ownership, and national and local government. Glasgow Life, the Glasgow City Council arm’s-length company responsible for managing the city’s main cultural and sporting assets has expressed interest in a new more mixed partnership approach to the cost of managing national assets. And international experience may be valuable, for example, the state-owned ‘Parador’ hotel model in Spain. But given the strategic significance of the sectors to Scotland, the impact of the crisis, and the importance of the tourism sector in particular for employment around the country, especially in rural communities, we think that there is a strong case to go further, and to look at fiscal measures to protect and progress it.”
Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop welcomed the recommendations of the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery. She said, “ “I would like to thank Benny Higgins, the independent Advisory Group members and all who contributed to their work in setting out a route to recovery for Scotland to address the economic impacts of COVID-19.”
She continued, “We wanted the report to be ambitious and far-reaching, and with this strong and comprehensive set of recommendations this has certainly been achieved.
“This report represents a clear call to action that goes beyond the Scottish Government and the public sector. We will only be able to build the kind of post-COVID-19 recovery we want with the active involvement of the private, cultural and third sectors and, importantly, the public. It is therefore vital that everyone continues to work together in the crucial weeks and months to come to deliver the action Scotland needs to recover from the impact of COVID-19.”
Adding, “To create a robust, resilient wellbeing economy, the public and private sector must now build a new partnership to prioritise and deliver bold action. And they must do so with purpose and urgency.”