Business Focus: FSB survey indicates challenging reality for Highland businesses that need ongoing support
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by David Richardson, regional development manager at FSB
Domestic tourism is booming, according to reports, so why do three in 10 tourism and hospitality businesses in the Inverness, Moray, Badenoch and Strathspey area fear for their survival?
A few months ago many of us assumed that as soon as travel restrictions were lifted we would see visitors flocking north in their droves, but have we? As the voice of smaller businesses, FSB Scotland has done what we always do and asked, and our survey of tourism and hospitality businesses across the Highlands, Islands, Moray, Argyll and Arran has just closed. Here’s a taster.
First, it’s clear that over a half of businesses in the region’s visitor economy see themselves as doing OK or better, but over four in 10 do not.
Businesses down the western seaboard are generally performing better than those in the Inverness, Moray, Badenoch and Strathspey area, while those doing best of all lie within the North Coast 500 road route.
Predictably, there is still a lot for businesses to worry about.
Top of the list across both the region and the Inverness area is keeping up to date with changing government rules and regulations.
Businesses want to comply but they don’t always know how, and they worry.
Moreover, businesses in the east are notably more concerned about turnover, while in the west staff shortages are much more of an issue, and staff shortages are hitting tourism and hospitality businesses hard.
Over four in 10 employers across all sectors and the whole region don’t have enough staff to meet their needs, and around a half of these have had to cut services, opening hours or both.
Most worrying of all, a quarter of tourism and hospitality businesses across the whole region and three in 10 in Inverness, Moray, Badenoch and Strathspey are feeling pessimistic about their chances of surviving into 2022.
As we slowly recover from the pandemic, keeping our trade local in support of our local businesses and economies remains as vital as ever, as does continued government support and investment.