THE Scottish Government has made a £3.8 million support package available to the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) to help the organisation recover from the impact of Covid-19.

The funding will help to protect nearly 200 critical jobs and will allow NTS to retain countryside and ranger services, as well as curation and education jobs.

The package will help 33 heritage sites to reopen this month, an increase from the 27 originally planned.

The funding comes with the condition that NTS works with the Scottish Government to consider the long-term sustainability of its operations and review its business model for future challenges.

NTS has been badly affected by Covid-19 and was forced to close properties which has resulted in a lack of income from membership, investments and fundraising.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "This has been a deeply difficult time for staff at National Trust for Scotland. Since the difficulties at the Trust emerged, I was absolutely clear that any support from Government would be to support jobs.

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"The severe impact of the pandemic means that unfortunately not all jobs can be saved but this funding will go far to protect as many critical roles across the National Trust for Scotland estate as we can.

"The funding will also ensure that some sites proposed for long-term closure by National Trust for Scotland can instead be reopened, and enjoyed once again by communities.

"The NTS is responsible for promoting and protecting many of Scotland's most important natural and built sites, which are crucial to our heritage and tourism sectors.

"Many issues remain, however I am committed to working with the new leadership to ensure the Trust is in a better position to continue this vital work in Scotland."

National Trust for Scotland chief executive Phil Long thanked the Government for their support, adding: "My joy at this announcement is tempered by the fact that the devastating effects of Covid-19 mean we still must say goodbye to friends and colleagues.

"I wish it were not so, but redundancies are unavoidable, although this support helps keep them to the absolute minimum.

"Through consultation on emergency measures we received invaluable advice from staff and others on functional expertise we must retain.

"Consequently, we've come up with a resilient operating model to weather continuing uncertainty and, through support from government and many individuals, enable us to look forward."