Government urged to support golf tourism ahead of ‘increasingly bleak summer’

The situation facing businesses relying on inbound international tourism was laid out in an adjournment debate in the House of Commons Golf clubs and businesses that rely on international visitors face an "increasingly bleak picture for summer 2021", MPs have been told. In an adjournment debate in the House of Commons, North East Fife MP Wendy Chamberlain urged the Government to commit to "supporting the golf industry, which relies so much on inbound international tourism". With new travel restrictions being imposed, aimed at preventing coronavirus cases coming in from abroad, and the prospect of domestic restrictions being lifted as the UK population is vaccinated, Chamberlain said: "We cannot on the one hand start opening up the economy domestically this summer, while on the other failing to provide support to those businesses that rely on inbound tourism. "It would be a disaster for so many of them and would potentially devastate the domestic market too." Chamberlain, whose constituency includes St Andrews and who is also vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, said up to 100 golf facilities attracted almost all overseas golf tourists to Scotland and generated at "least £300 million in revenues". "As the House can imagine, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, the impact on clubs, small business owners, the people of my constituency and other areas around Scotland and the UK where golf plays an important part was huge". Chamberlain called on the Government to implement a ‘deposit guarantee scheme’ to protect tour operators in the case of continued restrictions. She also outlined the gaps in support schemes, which means that on the day service people; caddies, and other self-employed people are unlikely to see the impact of grant support. Chamberlain added: "Golf tourism’s particular reliance on international tourism - and particularly on American tourists, who were subject to quarantine restrictions - meant that in effect the 2020 season was sadly over before it began. "That has had a particular impact on inbound tour operators, many of which operate in my constituency. Last year, I organised a roundtable with the Scottish Incoming Golf Tour Operators Association (SIGTOA) and a number of local operators, and they told me of the difficulties they had faced over the previous months. "One tour operator said to me: 'as of yesterday and today, I have received two separate cancellations from Australian groups who had rescheduled from this year to 2021…Yet again this is a prime example that Golf Tourism and our businesses are being crippled, and will continue to be crippled, not just for 6 months but what is likely to be 18-24 months.' "Another Fife-based company told me: 'With nearly 40 years in package tourism, we have experienced a number of challenges as the business was affected by various national and international events. We simply battened down the hatches and worked through it all, using our own resources and never a penny piece of public money. Our company (as with those of our fellow operators) has proved very resilient - but Covid is stress-testing that...
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