Crieff Hydro Group, which operates the four-star Peebles spa and hotel, is expecting to make 241 staff redundant come August after booking were wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.
The family-owned group, which bought the Innerleithen Road spa, hotel and conference centre and nearby Park Hotel in 2014, is planning to shed more than a quarter of its worker.
Tweeddale West councillor Kris Chapman said: “I am heartbroken for the staff who now find themselves in this awful position, who have put so much passion and energy into their work, and for the tourism and hospitality industries who are facing a challenge like no other at the moment.
“Spring and summer are normally their busiest times of the year, usually relying on seasonal staffing to support the number of visitors.
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“When we start coming out of this current crisis, the industry will be entering a low season for bookings and visits, trying to get by until Spring 2021. I know the industry is adaptable, but I fear for some hotels this crisis will have been too much.
“That is why I hope governments on both sides of the border act on the call by Tim Farron MP, who is seeking financial aid for the industry right through to Spring 2021. If governments want the hospitality and tourism industries to survive, they need to give them the long term support to do so.”
Fellow ward councillor Heather Anderson added: “This is grim news and our thoughts go out to the 241 individuals and their families who I understand are being informed.
“The pandemic is hitting the hospitality sector particularly hard, as everyone in the sector is acutely aware.
“Our only hope at this time is that the sector bounces back in the coming year and many of these people regain positions in the sector if that is their wish.”
Proprietor Stephen Leckie blamed an expected 35-50% drop in bookings as a result of the pandemic. More on that here:
However, he added that the number of job losses at the 132-room hotel could be reduced or increased, depending on the pace at which lockdown regulations on the hospitality industry are eased.
Tweeddale MP David Mundell is calling for the Scottish Government to give a clearer idea of when the hospitality sector can reopen for business.
He said: “A sharp fall in future bookings and anticipated increased costs going forward after the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, mean the hospitality industry is one of the hardest hit sectors in the south of Scotland.
“The hydro is a flagship destination and it, along with The Park and our other excellent local hotels, are key to the recovery of the tourism industry across Tweeddale.
“I’m pleased Scottish Enterprise and other agencies are becoming involved and I will look to see what other avenues can be explored to safeguard jobs.
“Helping our hospitality industry must remain a high priority for the Scottish Government during the challenging months ahead.
“A good start would be to give the industry an indication of when hotels are likely to open again.”