AN INCREASING number of hotels in Scotland are deciding to shut their doors until the New Year as customers rush to cancel bookings in light of tightening coronavirus restrictions.

The Scottish Government ordered huge swathes of the hospitality industry in west and central Scotland to close on Tuesday when it placed 11 local authority areas into tier four of the lockdown system. The restrictions take effect at 6pm on Friday, and will remain in place until December 11 when they are next reviewed.

Hospitality outlets in central Scotland have already been trading under strict conditions for several weeks under tier three, which means they have to close at 6pm and are unable to sell alcohol.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “I’ve had several calls with hoteliers and hotel associations since the First Minister’s announcement yesterday around the forthcoming introduction of Level 4 restrictions in 11 of Scotland’s local authority areas and the fact that travel guidance from Tier 3 and 4 will become law from Friday. 

“All, regardless of which tier they are in, are faced with a situation where their footfall is largely wiped out due to the travel restrictions, and the fact that alcohol can’t be served in the majority of hotel restaurants, which means that they are not able to offer an experience in line with customer expectations. This is leaving many with no option but to close, some for the three week period, many for beyond that period and well into the new year.”

Mr Crothall added: “The hotels I’ve spoken to have told me that the cancellations are already flooding in too as guests remain unsure of what will or won’t be possible so all are running the numbers to establish whether it is viable to stay open and with demand already at a very low level for this time of year, it would seem highly likely that most will close for at least the next few months.

 “This is undoubtedly the most desperate time for our industry since the crisis unfolded with all businesses keen to learn the detail of the Scottish Government’s support package, the headlines of which were announced yesterday and I am hopeful that by tomorrow we will have more clarity on that and a timescale for businesses to apply for funding.”