£10m boost for Scottish coach operators

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A £10 million fund has been made available to help businesses prepare for 2021 season.

Coach operators can apply for a share of the money to help support their businesses through the Covid-19 crisis, as part of a wider £104.3 million fund for tourism and hospitality financial support package available from The Scottish Government.

Applications will go live from 1200hrs on Tuesday 16 February to and remain open until 1700hrs on Tuesday 23 February. The one-off fund will specifically provide support to Scottish-based businesses in the coach tourism and coach private hire sector, who are operating the newest and most environmentally friendly vehicle fleet; a Euro 5 or 6 grade and M2 or M3 category, with 8 or more seats.

The Scotland Coach Operators – Covid-19 Business Support and Continuity Fund, with development input from the Confederation of Passenger Transport, is one of nine funding streams being administered by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government. The national tourism organisation said it has redeployed more than 100 staff from other roles to help process applications as quickly as possible.

The money being made available aims to cover fixed costs that businesses continue to incur when they cannot operate, and to help prepare them for reopening when it is safe to do so.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “We appreciate the devastating impact the pandemic has had on all of our important tourism and events businesses, affecting every corner of our industry and area of the country.

“VisitScotland is diverting our focus from marketing to funding for the next three months to ensure that desperately needed help is delivered quickly, to those most in need.

“Some in the industry have been able to generate revenue as a result of offering digital experiences online or operating within the restrictions to take advantage of the increase in domestic visitors.

“Unfortunately, coach operators have had little or no income through either of these means. Hopefully this fund will go some way to meet their immediate financial needs until coach tours become financially viable again.”

Paul White, Scotland Director, Confederation of Passenger Transport added: “CPT welcomes the launch of the Covid-19 Business Support and Continuity Fund for Scotland’s coach operators. This fund will serve as a much-needed lifeline for many CPT coach operator members, many of whom have been unable to trade to any great degree since winter 2019. The fund will help meet some of the substantial costs incurred over these past 10 months of inactivity.

“We look forward to continuing to work with both The Scottish Government and VisitScotland as we navigate the road to recovery for Scotland’s coach industry.”

Guidance notes and eligibility criteria can be found at: visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/funding/coach-operator-fund