Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of “red listing” Scotland as holiday bookings slump amid confusion over Covid-19 rules.
Industry leaders have warned hundreds of millions of pounds is being lost because tourists don’t know if the country is open for business.
While much of the nation has moved to Level 2, the First Minister announced on Friday that Glasgow – a major transport hub – will remain in Level 3 for at least another week.
It means people cannot travel in or out of the city without a good reason or visit one another’s houses. Hospitality firms also face tighter rules.
Meanwhile, even in Level 2, strict social distancing rules mean many venues and visitor attractions are closed or operating at reduced capacity.
Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), said: “We carried out research which showed very clearly that forward bookings are exceptionally low across the country, particularly in our cities.
“From my conversations with businesses and representatives across all tourism sectors, it’s apparent that guidance in some respects is not clear enough.
“We receive a number of inquiries every day from people unsure about what they can and can’t do in Scotland. So it’s critical there is clear communication from the Scottish and UK Governments to ensure anybody looking to visit or holiday in Scotland is equipped with clear facts.
“There needs to be a very strong and clear message coming from the Scottish Government that Scotland is open and we welcome all.”
An STA study found 83 per cent of hoteliers believe their business will be financially unsustainable if trading at two metres physical distancing – a requirement even at Level 2.
Stephen Montgomery, of the Scottish Hospitality Group, added: “The danger is that the First Minister is effectively red listing Scotland as a destination this summer. It’s crucial for the hospitality sector to get back on its feet and start employing people again.
“As things stand, people thinking of visiting Scotland on holiday don’t know whether they’re even allowed to travel through Glasgow or if they’re allowed to book a hotel. Public health is paramount but it feels like the Government is just not interested in listening or working with business and that’s putting hundreds of millions of pounds worth of economic activity at risk.”
The decision to keep Glasgow in Level 3 has come after Covid outbreaks, mainly on the city’s south side, although hospital admissions have not risen significantly.
Every other area of Scotland is in Level 2 or Level 1. In England, tiered rules have been dropped after being deemed ineffective and too hard to understand.
Paul Waterson, owner of the Golden Lion Hotel in Stirling, said: “The situation is dire, bookings are way down and this idea that everyone was going to be rushing out on staycations just hasn’t happened. We’re sitting from one day to the next not knowing what the rules are going to be, it feels like the Government has learned nothing.
“In Glasgow, you have this crazy situation where you can go into a pub but you can’t get a drink.
“Potentially hundreds of millions in revenue will be lost over the next few months which should be some of the busiest of the year.
“We still don’t have weddings of any size, we don’t have conferences, we don’t have many attractions open which bring in tourists.”
Sturgeon has said she hopes Glasgow will be able to move to Level 2 on Saturday and it’s hoped the rules will ease further in mid-June.
But Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said Glasgow firms had been “struggling to survive” and that the SNP’s approach to business needed a “complete overhaul”.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said there needs to be a “proper route map and exit plan”. He added: “I think there is a real risk that public trust and confidence is breaking down.”