It’s no secret that Dundee’s booming tourism trade has been shattered by Covid-19– a problem faced by the sector worldwide.
A record £214 million was brought into the city last year through tourism, but Level 3 restrictions limiting travel has forced many of Dundee’s most loved attractions to temporarily close.
Low visitor numbers forced Discovery Point, Verdant Works, Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) and Dundee Science Centre to temporarily close their doors, and the effects of the latest restrictions are being “keenly felt” at V&A Dundee.
No one can deny the scar the pandemic will leave on the tourism industry, but behind the scenes bosses at all of our city’s competing attractions are joining forces to save the industry’s future.
Deirdre Robertson, chair of Dundee Tourism Leadership Group, said: “Dundee’s cultural and tourism venues have a long tradition of collaborative working and those networks have provided an invaluable source of mutual support during the Covid crisis.
“The majority of players in the sector see ourselves as part of Team Dundee – it’s such a small city that everyone knows each other and we are there for each other through the good and the bad – Covid has been no exception.
“Collaborations between attractions and also between attractions and other city partners are happening all the time on many fronts – from joint funding bids to delivery of community projects.”
The fund is hopes to off-set the impact of the pandemic and will be split between V&A Dundee, Dundee Heritage Trust which is responsible for Discovery Point and Verdant Works, DCA, Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre, and Dundee Science Centre.
Individual organisations and attractions are also collaborating in new ways – Dundee Heritage Trust and Dundee Science Centre together created a joint schools science project during lockdown – and existing collaborations are continuing to grow despite the Covid crisis.
Dr Isabel Bruce, Chief Executive Officer, Dundee Science Centre said: “We are fortunate to operate within a city where our cultural attractions collaborate and support each other through the good and bad.
“The situation we are all currently working in may be extremely challenging but we are working together to support each other, regardless of whether the attractions themselves are open or closed.
“The pandemic has provided an opportunity to think out of the box, re-visit what our audiences actually want and diversify our offering.”
The science centre, currently only open at weekends, is offering most of its activities for this month’s Dundee Science Festival online and encouraging families to get out and about through a city-wide Space trail.
V&A Dundee is also currently open under reduced hours, having been closed from March to August, and is working with local businesses such as Heather Street Food and Tea Green with a new pop up store in the museum.
A spokeswoman for V&A Dundee said: “V&A Dundee is committed to being part of Dundee’s regeneration and recovery from Covid-19.
“Since Dundee entered Level 3 people are rightly restricting their travel, the impact on us and other cultural organisations in the city is being keenly felt.
“We hope V&A Dundee has much to offer the people of Dundee over these difficult winter months as a welcoming and safe place to spend time as we look towards better days.”
Leisure and Culture Dundee, which operates venues including The McManus and Camperdown Wildlife Park, is also reaching out to Dundonians for support by hosting events of local interest.
Judy Dobbie, the organisation’s acting director, said: “We’ll be ready to welcome tourists from further afield when the time comes but until then we’re pleased that everyone in the city can still show their love for their city and enjoy a fantastic day out.”
However Dundee Heritage Trust saw such a “dramatic drop” in visitor numbers that the only option was to temporarily close – a decision which will be reviewed in December.
Deirdre Robertson, the organisation’s CEO, said: “While the impact of the tier system on tourism has been dramatic we fully support the government’s efforts and understand the restrictions on travel measures are necessary for the greater good.
“We remain optimistic that when its fully safe to do so, and travel restrictions are lifted, visitors will be flocking back to Dundee and to see our amazing five star rated visitor attractions.”