COMMUNITIES in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park will see a drop of more than £500 million in tourism income because of lockdown restrictions, according to an industry expert.

James Fraser, the chairman of Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, made the claim after it announced that continuous lockdowns have resulted in tourism revenues falling at a staggering rate in the National Park, with over £300 million lost already and another £200 million to come if restrictions remain the same.

Mr Fraser, a former chief executive of the tourist board for Argyll, the Isles, Loch Lomond, Stirling and the Trossachs, says the absence of advance bookings into tourist attractions from English and overseas markets has contributed to the losses.

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Scotland with more than four million visitors a year pre-Covid generating spending of £420 million and sustaining over 6,000 jobs directly and indirectly.

Mr Fraser, who was the regional director in the area for Visit Scotland until he moved into independent consultancy, said: “Tourism and hospitality businesses are looking into the abyss, with fixed costs increasing due to the recent lengthy cold snap and severely depressed levels of income from forward booking deposits, which are normally buoyant at this time of year.

“They are becoming more desperate.

"'While the various closure and sectoral grant schemes are helpful, they fall well short of monthly fixed overheads with many businesses having now exhausted their reserves and borrowing more heavily on top of previous borrowings.

“More permanent tourism business closures have taken place, and more are inevitable the longer the lockdown continues.

''When businesses eventually do re-open various trading restrictions are likely still to be in place limiting capacity and trading potential meaning they could be quite exposed in cashflow terms without more support.''