Gavin and Penny Ellis outside Knockomie Hotel by Forres

Knockomie Inn

Restarting businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector

The Tourism and Hospitality sectors are amongst the hardest hit by the economic impact of COVID-19. 

Across the UK only 11% of hospitality businesses were able to operate normally during lockdown, according to UKHospitality figures

In Scotland, thousands of staff have been furloughed, and hardship funding has distributed millions of pounds into supporting hotels, guest houses, self catering and visitor attractions. 

In the Highlands and Islands almost a fifth of the funds approved in the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund went to the sector. As we move out of lockdown, the sector is working hard to build visitor and staff confidence, and facing the challenges of rising costs and reduced customer numbers. 



Impact of COVID-19 at Knockomie

Gavin and Penny Ellis have run the Knockomie Inn in Forres for 35 years. They've seen significant change over the years, adapting their business from a country house to luxury Inn, faced the challenge of one of their main clients the RAF leaving Kinloss, and building a strong international clientele from Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

In this video, Gavin shares the impact of the pandemic and lockdown on their business, their staff and customers. He discusses what they're doing to re-open safely and sensitively, and why this is the time for the sector to work together to support recovery.

The business has secured funding from HIE to support some of the changes they are making at the Inn.

'38 developing a plan
1.40 team support
3.08 building confidence
4.20 steps to bring back an international market
4.45 skills opportunities

If we can remain imaginative, work together, experiment, improve and learn from best practice internationally it will allow for a faster recovery.
Gavin Ellis, Owner, Knockomie Inn
Covid-19 paused tourism as we knew it all across Scotland. As the industry gradually re-opens and moves into recovery, it’s important to build visitor confidence, encouraging individuals to explore responsibly and become ‘hametown tourists’.
Jo Robinson, regional director, VisitScotland
Moray Speyside’s tourism industry enjoyed successive years of growth prior to COVID-19 and should be in a strong position to recover. The past months have shown that sharing ideas and initiatives as a region is crucial as we adapt to a new reality.
Laurie Piper, chief executive, Visit Moray Speyside

Visit the area

Looking for the perfect staycation? See Visit Moray Speyside’s fantastic film highlighting just a few of the unforgettable things to see and do.

Screen shot of Visit Moray Speyside app

Check & Protect in Moray

Visit Moray Speyside’s Check & Protect platform offers businesses a simple, secure and efficient way of recording customer contact details in line with the guidelines using a simple web-based interface.

Customers have only to sign up once to the system, using their smartphone camera, and they can then seamlessly check in to any registered business with their phone.

A business dashboard allows manual entry of patron data for those who do not have a smartphone by means of a simple web-page which can be accessed on a laptop, desktop or tablet.

Data is securely stored for the required 21-day period and is then automatically deleted. If businesses become aware of a potential issue, their check-in data can be accessed by NHS track & trace or the local authority within minutes.

Check & Protect is being offered free for use to every business in Moray Speyside through a partnership between Visit Moray Speyside and Moray Chamber of Commerce.

Find out more

The changing tourism market for the region

With international markets precarious, staycations are set to boom in the short to medium term. The Knockomie has built a strong international market, but it has always been open to welcoming those closer to home. Gavin suggests in this short clip how local hospitality businesses can build on this as an opportunity.


Where to now?

If the Knockomie story has inspired you, find out more about the sector and how we can help you in the Highlands and Islands.


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