Coronavirus funding gives lifeline to 100 country sports tourism businesses

Vital coronavirus funding worth £1m has been awarded to more than 100 hard-hit country sports tourism businesses in Scotland.

The lifeline cash follows a strong lobbying campaign by two of the sector’s leading representative bodies, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group (SCSTG) and was developed with help from VisitScotland and the Scottish government.

Applicants had to demonstrate a minimum revenue loss of 50 per cent as a result of the pandemic, while also proving that 75 per cent of annual turnover was derived from country sports tourism.
The fund – which opened to applicants at the end of February – received applications from a diverse range of businesses across Scotland, including sporting agencies, game shoots, sporting estates, clay pigeon shooting grounds, deer stalking providers, falconers, sea fishing charters and inland fisheries.
BASC Scotland’s public affairs manager, Ross Ewing, said: “This fund has delivered crucial and much-needed support to a sector that makes a pivotal contribution to the rural economy.
“After what has been a tumultuous and disruptive year, this funding will provide many businesses with the means to survive and reopen, which in turn will benefit other key rural businesses.
“We would like to thank the Scottish Government and VisitScotland for eventually making this funding available, and we wish the successful applicants the best of luck in their recovery.”
Rory Kennedy, chairman of the SCSTG, added: “With our core season coinciding with the second lockdown, few sectors have been as hard hit as the country sports tourism sector.
“It was regrettable that we had to fight so hard for this lifeline funding, but we appreciate the Scottish Government and its agencies acknowledging the vital role we play in Scotland’s rural economy and in supporting its fragile communities.”
Alf Sorensen, owner of an Aberdeenshire-based sporting agency, said: “The Scottish country sports tourism restart fund has been a much-needed lifeline for my businesses. The coronavirus pandemic has been severely disruptive, resulting in the almost complete loss of international tourists as well as those from other UK nations.
“This funding will give us the best chance of successfully reopening when restrictions allow and we would like to thank BASC and the SCSTG for their efforts in successfully lobbying for this funding.”

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