Tommy Sheppard | MP for Edinburgh East

The impact of Covid-19 on tourism in Edinburgh.

All of us who are fortunate enough to live in this wonderful city are well aware that usually our city is inundated with tourist each summer. Indeed, it’s not just the summer – Edinburgh draws tourists year round. While I know some local residents feel the frustration of it, there can be no doubt that our city relies on the industry. Over 33,000 people work in the sector.

Covid-19 has had a significant impact on Edinburgh – with tourism and hospitality hardest hit. Today there was a backbench debate in the House of Commons on “Support for the tourism industry after the Covid-19 lockdown”. This was the first debate I had taken part in since lockdown as MPs aren't able to contribute to debates remotely.

I used the debate to not only discuss the impact on the city but also what it needs to move forward. Businesses that rely on this sector are having their operation restricted by public policy – so they should be supported by the public purse. The priority now is to help businesses that are closed, or operating at reduced capacity to get through to next Spring in no worse a position that they are now. Thereafter, continuing support will be required for a few years until public confidence and market demand return to anything like pre-Covid levels.

It will cost. But not doing this will also cost. Not just in additional subsistence payments to those who are made redundant, but in a much slower rate of recovery once the pandemic ends.

Watch my full speech here:



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