Tourism and hospitality bosses have welcomed reports that Boris Johnson is planning to staycation in Scotland this summer.
The prime minister, his fiancé Carrie Symonds and their baby son Wilfred are said to be travelling north of the border next weekend.
A Number 10 source declined to comment but did not deny the report. The suggestion appears to be that Mr Johnson and his family will be in Scotland for around a week, a trip in line with pleas to support the economy by holidaying at home during the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Johnson has faced repeated criticism that his work trips to Scotland do not appear to involve many encounters with members of the public.
When on UK Government or Conservative Party business, Mr Johnson typically makes a flying visit, leading the SNP to question his commitment to Scotland.
His Scottish holiday comes at a time when the Union is under pressure with a recent poll putting support for independence at 54%. Other opinion polls have suggested Mr Johnson has an unfavourable rating with Scottish voters. The prime minister will be hopeful that a Scottish staycation might improve his appeal with the Scottish public.
I think it is great he is staying in the UK and even better that he’s coming to Scotland. Leaving aside any political connotations, It shows great support for the Scottish tourism and hospitality industries.”
Willie Macleod of UK Hospitality
The prospect of a prime ministerial holiday was welcomed by Willie Macleod, Executive Director Scotland of UK Hospitality.
“I think it is great he is staying in the UK and even better that he’s coming to Scotland. Leaving aside any political connotations, It shows great support for the Scottish tourism and hospitality industries,” Mr Macleod said.
“His visit is providing support at a time when we really need it.”
Mr Macleod added that the tourism and hospitality industries had “suffered a dent in consumer confidence” as a result of the coronavirus outbreak in Aberdeen, and reintroduction of lockdown measures.
“We welcome any visitor to Scotland the prime minister’s visit is particularly appropriate.”
It is not yet known exactly where Mr Johnson intends to visit. But a spokesman for Skye Connect, the tourism management organisation on the island, said the news was “very welcome”.
“I can’t speak for the political affiliation of islanders but there is always as warm welcome to visitors in Skye. Staycationing is fantastic. In Skye we traditionally have around 70% international visitors and 30% domestic.
“This year we have to turn that around to appeal to the Staycation market. What we would say though is that people looking to staycation must plan ahead and check what’s open.”
The prime minister has spoken about allowing a “brief staycation to creep into the agenda, if that’s possible” when quizzed about his plans for a getaway.
Their last known holiday that Mr Johnson and his fiancé took was a luxury winter break to the private Caribbean island of Mustique.
Other MPs’ trips abroad have come unstuck due to the 14-day quarantine restriction being imposed on visitors returning from overseas destinations that are deemed as high-risk.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was in Spain when the UK’s most popular holiday destination was struck off the safe list of travel destinations, while minister for London Paul Scully was in Lanzarote.
Since then, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Bahamas have been added to the quarantine list and there are concerns France could be next as the nation struggles to control increasing cases.
Speaking last month, Mr Johnson said: “I would encourage people still to think of wonderful staycations here in the UK.
“There are all sorts of fantastic destinations, the best in the world, I would say.
“All my happiest holiday memories are of holiday vacations here in the UK, bucket-and-spade jobs or whatever, and I thoroughly, thoroughly recommend it, and I’m sure that people will have a great time over the summer.”