Following raising the issue with the Scottish Government on Monday this week, South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has welcomed the advice from the Scottish Government which advises visitors staying on leisure sites to return home.

In line with recent advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) announced by the First Minister, campsites, caravan and holiday parks in Scotland are to close immediately to new arrivals, including tourers, other transient visitors and holiday lets.

In a statement the Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing stated that sites should also advise current visitors and owners of second homes on sites to return home and stay at home, where they can do so safely and practically.

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“I am pleased that after raising the issue of tourists coming to the region directly with the Cabinet Secretary, despite the government advice in relation to COVID-19, that the Scottish Government has now acted and has issued urgent advice urging people to go home.

“I was able to make the Cabinet Secretary aware that this was a Scotland wide issue and not just focussed on the Isle of Skye and the Highlands. I am pleased that the Cabinet Secretary agreed that messaging from the Scottish Government would be Scotland wide and empathised that people in the South West should not feel ignored.

“As the Scottish Government has made abundantly clear, this is not the time for holidays, travel, or for being away from home. Additional visitors, particularly to rural areas such as in Dumfries and Galloway, will put a severe strain on local resources and the NHS, which is not set up to cover the need of non-residents long term.

“All those who can safely do so should now return to their primary residence. However, I also understand that in some cases residential mobile homes, motorhomes, campervans and holiday lets on a caravan park or tourist site may be someone’s primary home, and that some people will be unable to return to where they usually live.

“Sites should be sympathetic to the circumstances of these individuals, and should, where necessary, remain open on a partial basis for these occupants only.

“I, along with the Scottish Government, recognise this is an incredibly testing time for the tourism industry and I appreciate the tremendous effort underway by businesses, large and small, within the sector to respond.

“I would urge any local caravan site or tourism business who is looking for any advice and support to contact my office who will be able to provide, advice, guidance and support and indeed signpost those businesses to the appropriate government agency.”