VISITSCOTLAND has backed a drive to help the Scottish tourism industry survive the coronavirus crisis.

The #dontcancelpostpone push urges holidaymakers not to abandon vacation plans due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The grassroots campaign asks potential visitors to postpone trip plans instead.

Scottish operators are amongst the international enterprises taking up the message.

It is hoped that this could save some at-risk accommodation providers and tour operators from going out of business as trade vanishes and refund requests lead to large pay-outs to customers.

Slainte Scotland Tours, which specialises in Outlander tours to overseas groups, is amongst the small businesses to take up the call.

READ MORE: Investment to double Scottish food and drink tourism spending

Its founder, Catriona Stevenson, is offering a 24-month raincheck to all customers. She told The National: “Small businesses can’t afford to make three or four months’ worth of refunds in one go. It’s better to spread that.

“Because there’s no official guidance from the Government, different businesses are coming up with their own ideas on how to manage. With #dontcancelpostpone, we offer a 100% voucher so that people can see through their holiday plans once things change.

The National: Slainte Scotland Tours specialises in Outlander themes excursionsSlainte Scotland Tours specialises in Outlander themes excursions

“We need to work with consumers so that they can come back.

“The industry is on its knees.”

All UK citizens have been advised to avoid non-essential travel as the pandemic continues.

Meanwhile, international governments have also issued guidance and put in place restrictions including travel bans for their populations.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon launches new 'world leader' Scots tourism strategy​

It is hoped that these measures will help to stop the spread of the virus, for which there is currently no specific treatment or vaccine.

UK chain Hotel du Vin, which has sites in St Andrews, Edinburgh and Glasgow, is amongst the companies to advocate the postponement policy, as is Linlithgow-based tour operator Mary’s Meanders, which specialises in small groups on ancestry and set-jetting tours to filming locations and other areas.

Now VisitScotland has also indicated its support.

A spokesperson told The National: “We totally understand the need to keep the public safe and follow the guidelines being introduced by the UK and Scottish Governments.

“The tourism and events industries are telling us they are facing their biggest ever challenge and we share their concerns for the immediate and longer term.

“Any initiative which seeks to support the industry and keep Scotland at the forefront of visitors’ minds is welcome.”

Tourism in Scotland is estimated to generate £10.5 billion for the country.

The National:

But big-draw events for 2020 have now been cancelled and, earlier this week, Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop (above) warned the Scottish economy is facing an “immediate collapse in demand”.

READ MORE: Eco-tourism boom to hit Scotland, VisitScotland analysis predicts​

Tourism, hospitality and retail businesses can apply for a full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief.

Other funding is also available, including £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme and £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000.

The introduction of the Visitor Levy Bill, which was to allow councils to bring in local tourism taxes, has now been postponed.

Making the announcement, Hyslop said: “The overall economic impact is clearly likely to be significant, though the scale and duration of the impact are difficult to predict.

“Depressed economic activity this year will have implications for the public finances through lower tax receipts and higher welfare spending.

READ MORE: Isle of Rum appeals for people to move into new eco-homes

“This will have severe economic consequences and we are treating it as an economic emergency, triggered by the enormity of the health emergency.”

She continued: “We need to see substantial grant support and tax breaks to keep companies in business and people in jobs where possible, and a greater emphasis on supporting individuals and households.”