At least a quarter of hotels in one island area are being missed out by Government Grant schemes.
This is revealed by the latest survey done by tourism management organisation, SkyeConnect.
At present businesses with a Rateable Value above £51,000 are not entitled to support from the Small Business Grant Fund, intended to aid businesses being crippled by the coronavirus lockdown.
Of the 40 hotel businesses on the Isle of Skye surveyed, 10 responded (25%). All respondents have staff on ‘furlough’ with the majority reporting that more than 10 staff have been put on the temporary 3-month Government Job Retention Scheme (JRS). However, it is not expected that Government payments through the JRS will start hitting bank accounts until June.
And the vast majority (70%) can only afford to pay staff for another four weeks.
SkyeConnect Board member, Anne Gracie-Gunn, runs three hotels that make up the Sonas Collection. “Two out of the three hotels in the group do not qualify for support as the Rateable Value is above £51,000.
"We have staff at each hotel on furlough. Our bills run in to the tens of thousands of £s every month. We cannot wait until June for the Job Retention Scheme to start paying out.
"Unless hotels across Scotland are included in the Small Business Grant Fund, regardless of Rateable Value, many of the anchors of the Scottish tourism industry, and their staff, will be gone for good.”
A third of the businesses surveyed need between £20,000-£30,000 a month of either grant aid or loans to survive the current lockdown, and beyond.
Every business surveyed has been told by their insurer that they are not covered for losses during the pandemic.
Their survival efforts have not been helped by the Online Travel Agents such as Expedia, Booking.com and Airbnb.
Two-thirds of hotels report their efforts to rearrange bookings with customers have been over-ridden by the OTA’s.
SkyeConnect Chair, Dave Till, says the survey demonstrates that the larger providers are hurting just as much as everyone else in the sector.
“People might think that the larger operators have greater resilience to cope with such a crisis. Our survey shows that is not the case.
"They employ significant numbers of people they are seeking to protect. If they do not qualify for Business Grant aid, they will not be able to support staff until Job Retention funding comes through in June.
"We join with our partners in the Scottish Tourism Alliance in calling for an urgent change to the Business Grant Fund criteria to protect some of the largest employers on Skye.”