SCOTLAND’S once booming tourism and hospitality industry is facing “devastating mass redundancies” as a result of measures announced by the Chancellor “falling short”, leading industry figures have warned.

The main bodies representing the sector said that Rishi Sunak’s new job support scheme would only benefit businesses which were in a position to employ staff, even on just a part-time basis.

However, they pointed out that because of the coronavirus restrictions, many outlets remained closed as the current public health curbs made it impossible to generate sufficient income to re-open.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of Scottish Tourism Alliance, said urgent action was needed to save the industry “from a perilous situation”.

He stated: “The jobs support scheme will only help businesses which have sufficient demand to pay these minimum hours. The majority of tourism businesses simply will not be able to do so as their businesses are either closed due to legislation or restrictions. This continues to create pressure on the payroll at a time when consumer confidence and demand for the services which the tourism sector offers is at an all-time low, coupled with the increased restrictions in place.

“There is not enough work for people in our sector and employers cannot afford to pay staff when there is no work, so we can still expect to see mass redundancies.”

He said the sector had been severely damaged already by the loss of trade since the pandemic hit, with many businesses acutely affected because of the loss of holiday makers from overseas.

“I know so many businesses within the tourism industry and supply chain were hopeful that today’s announcement would offer an immediate lifeline, especially those businesses who have not been able to restart or have been significantly impacted by the loss of the international market,” he added.

“The reality we must all face now is that within the coming days and weeks, businesses owners will lose their livelihoods, thousands will lose their income and the effects on the economy and people’s lives will be nothing short of devastating.”

The Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA), the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, said the Chancellor’s plan “falls short” in protecting pubs and jobs. A spokesman for the SBPA said it had hoped for extra support following the 10pm curfew for the trade, which comes }into force tonight.

“Overall, the package falls short of what is needed to protect pubs and the thousands of jobs that depend on them,” he said.

“We’re pleased to see our call for an extension of the VAT cut on food and soft drinks being successful, but are disappointed the Chancellor missed the opportunity to expand this to include alcohol. The extension is also only for six weeks, meaning the impact will be further limited.

“The new flexible job support scheme is needed considering that the furlough scheme will end next month, but with a lower level of funding from Government that will cost employers more, we are not confident it is enough to protect jobs in the current trading conditions. He added: “Scotland’s brewers are also being greatly impacted by restrictions and the measures that pubs now face. With no direct support for them in today’s announcement, it is imperative that a beer duty cut is top of the list for the Chancellor at the next Budget, which would greatly help wet-led pubs too. “The Scottish Government also has a key role to play in supporting pub businesses to get through this period.

“Current regulations banning background music and noise from televisions is having a massive impact on our businesses, with no evidence of it having a positive impact in reducing transmission. “The 10pm curfew will have a disastrous impact on pubs across the UK. In Scotland particularly, the majority will lose two or three hours trading as they stay open until midnight or 1am.

“This substantial loss of revenue needs to be acknowledged with additional support.

“We also need recognition that consumer confidence is fragile, and the latest additional restrictions will have added to that. The sector desperately needs a second round of sector-specific grants to help save pubs and jobs.”