Tourism leaders in Scotland have reacted with disappointment after the first minister urged people not to book holidays over Easter.
Nicola Sturgeon warned Scots not to book a break either in Scotland or overseas at the start of April.
Willie Macleod, executive director for Scotland of UK Hospitality, said: “I’ve just listened to the First Minister and I have to say it’s extremely disappointing.
“I look forward to the review of the joint strategic framework next week to see what is in store and when hotels, bars and restaurants might be able to reopen, but given the messages thus far I’m not overly optimistic.
“It’s just really disappointing for all of our businesses, whether they be in rural areas or in the cities.
“We’re dependent on very valuable international travel as well as internal travel, so the exhortation not to book holidays is very discouraging news.
“I understand the Scottish Government are being cautious, but when we hear about closures being in place for ‘some time’, it remains to be seen just how long ‘some time’ is.”
Chief executive of the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA), Gordon Morrison, warned of the economic repercussions for the industry, calling for “substantial” financial support.
“As it now looks like we will be subjected to restrictions for a considerable period of time, it is vital that the Scottish Government provides additional financial support for the sector,” he said.
“Ongoing fixed costs at attractions are higher than in most other sectors.
“With high fixed costs, it is essential that substantial financial support is provided for as long as restrictions are in place, or we are in danger of seeing significant redundancies and closures within the industry.
“It is our sector, the ‘see and do’ sector, the custodians of our culture, heritage and landscapes that will lead the recovery of the tourism industry when visitors are allowed to return, so we cannot be allowed to fail now.
“I would also make it clear that there have yet to be any recorded cases of virus transmission at a visitor attraction anywhere in the UK.
“It is therefore absolutely essential that, when restrictions are lifted on the likes of non-essential retail, they should also be lifted for visitor attractions.”
Scottish Tourist Guides Association chairwoman Linda Arthur called for a “safety first” approach.
“The first minister said staycations may be possible in the summer and we hope the vaccination programme will be well advanced by then, allowing domestic tourism to restart,” she said.
“Some of our members do have tentative bookings for the second half of the year but they know there are no certainties and we have to see not only what is happening here but also globally.
“Several members have had a strong response to virtual tours of Scotland from America and wider global markets indicating that they can’t wait to be able to travel to Scotland in real time once it is safe to do so.”
Adrian Watson, chief executive of the Aberdeen Inspired business improvement group, said: “We all understand the need for public health to take primacy in such decisions, but that a road map is desperately needed for our retail and hospitality businesses, that will at least give them some indication of when they can start trading.
“Of course, there needs to be continued economic support to all affected businesses during this lockdown period, coupled with a strong and explicit commitment nationally to support our city centres recovery across the country in the months and years that lie ahead.”