Scotland’s events industry is gearing up for its “third winter” this year amid claims it has been “left behind” during the pandemic.
Calls have been made for the likes of wedding and conference planners, and the contractors associated with both, to be given specialist support to help them through the coming months.
Some organisers are finding they cannot break even on any events being held due to the 20-person maximum limit imposed to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
And, with the travel bans imposed as part of the country’s new tier system, venues are reporting a further blow to trade.
Carol Fowler, who owns Banchory Lodge Hotel and Prime Events Scotland, said she has been left in a “horrendous” position where she is often making a loss when hosting nuptials.
“It’s not actually cost-effective for us to run a wedding now,” she said.
“It’s really not worth our while but if your bride has booked and she wants to go ahead with a maximum of 20 then you have to do it.
“We don’t want to put more stress on them than they’re already under but, realistically, it’s not practical for us at all.”
Since March, around 40 weddings booked for Banchory Lodge have been cancelled or rescheduled.
Ms Fowler added: “We’ve had around 40 weddings that have had to be moved.
“And we’ve had to pay all the wages to get that done – it’s a huge amount of work.
“As an event manager I need to deploy maybe 15 or 20 contractors to do an event and, now, all those contractors have been left behind and had no support.
“We’re not technically allowed to trade and we’ve no grants and no support, so it’s a disaster.
“These companies are all in dire need. It’s absolutely horrendous.”
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie said the wedding industry in his constituency alone make around £15 million every year.
He has called upon the Scottish and UK governments to remember the “forgotten people” working in this and its associated industries, and step in to help them through any financial hardship.
Scottish Conservative Mr Bowie has asked the Treasury to provide support for the events sector in the same way it has backed frontline hospitality and catering in recent months.
Last week MPs were told the UK Government is spending approximately £16 billion to support Scotland through the epidemic, including an additional £7bn on top of its usual Barnett funding.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The pandemic has had a severe impact on Scotland’s wedding sector – but we are at a critical point, and everyone must play their part in stopping its spread.
“The efforts being made to allow weddings to continue recognise the importance of marriage and civil partnership to couples and society more widely, including to businesses that provide services in this area.
“Indeed, in other parts of the UK the maximum number of guests permitted is less than in Scotland – and in England marriages have in effect stopped for now.”