Tourism restarts cautiously with self-catering and extended travel range

Today marks the start of the 2020 tourist season in Scotland, with two major lockdown restrictions lifted.

The five-mile limit is gone, and self-catering properties are open for business.

More specifically, the phase 2 relaxation applies to self-contained, self-catering holiday accommodation, including caravan and campervan parks, lodges, and second homes. Caravans and campers must have fully self-contained water and waste facilities within them, as you will not be able to use shared facilities such as toilet and washing blocks. Two-metre physical distancing still applies.

Those who want to camp in tents in the wild, or in campsites using shared facilities, are asked to wait until the tourism sector is fully re-open, provisionally 15 July, when other parts of the hospitality sector will open their doors.

It’s a welcome break for tourism operators, who have been desperate to get back to business, but the Scottish Government is emphasising caution should not be thrown to the wind.

However, with the option to get in your car and drive as far as you want, there is still a requirement to behave responsibly and to be sensitive to rural communities. You are encouraged to stay as close to your local area as possible, and be able to get back in a day.

Good news

Tourism secretary Fergus Ewing said: “The re-opening of self-catering accommodation and the lifting of the five-mile restriction for travel is good news for our hard-pressed tourism sector.

“Being able to enjoy outdoor hospitality from next week will also be a much-needed boost for the industry. These announcements don’t mean everything is open again but we are moving in the right direction to get the industry back up and running.”

He said people should plan their journey properly, particularly with reference to fuel and toilet stops. He also urged people use common sense and if a place looks crowded, you should go somewhere else.

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear that relaxation of measures will be reversed if the number of infections increases.

And it’s not ‘business as usual’ for the owners of the properties they’re renting out. Owners have had to make significant changes to the way they operate with additional cleaning routines, with some getting certification to prove they’ve implemented.

But it is a start and a glimmer of hope, particularly for bars, hotels and restaurants who are waiting anxiously for their turn to come around.

Beer gardens and other outdoor hospitality can restart on 6 July.

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