Tourism sector welcomes extension for existing short-term let operators to apply for licence

Tourism sector welcomes extension for existing short-term let operators to apply for licence

Existing short-term let hosts and operators will have more time to apply for a licence after the Scottish Parliament approved a six-month extension.

MSPs voted in favour of extending the timeframe for the short-term let licensing scheme for existing hosts only.

It means that businesses which were already operating as a short-term let before 1 October 2022 have up until 1 October 2023 to apply for a short-term let licence. New hosts still need a licence before they can start operating.

VisitScotland said it will continue to lead an Industry Advisory Group, with representatives from the sector, to help support businesses through the application process.

Rob Dickson, VisitScotland’s industry and destination development director, said: “This is a welcome development that acknowledges the challenges that the sector is facing at present through the general rise in the cost of doing business.

“The small accommodation sector is a key contributor to both the Scottish economy and to the sustainable growth of the tourism industry.

“The extension granted today will create an opportunity for greater clarity to be provided in both the national guidance for short-term let licensing and in the guidance produced by individual councils.

“In turn, this should ensure that existing operators do not have to provide unnecessary information or incur extra costs in making their application. In all, this should ensure greater confidence for operators in what is required of them and a smoother process for councils to manage.

“We’re committed to helping both new and established businesses and are providing clear information on our website to help them understand how the licensing scheme applies to them.

“Our high-quality accommodation is one of the things that makes Scotland such a special destination and the diverse range on offer caters well to visitors with different needs and budgets looking for a unique experience.

“There are encouraging signs of interest in Scotland for this summer including from international visitors who tend to stay longer and spend more in our local communities; every accommodation provider stands to benefit from this interest.

“As we focus on the industry’s recovery, we’ll continue to work closely with the sector and their representatives to support this vital part of Scotland’s visitor economy.”

Fiona Campbell, CEO of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, added: “It is welcome news that MSPs have voted for the six-month delay for existing operators to apply for a short-term let licence. This provides temporary respite for hard-pressed Scottish tourism businesses but it is a sticking plaster policy as there are so many concerns to overcome if the £867m self-catering sector is to once again survive and thrive.

“From exorbitant fees, conflating licensing and planning regimes, inadequate guidance, barriers to investment, stipulating the need for layout plans, carpeted properties or even adequate cutlery space, these regulations are a runaway train that the Scottish Government desperately needs to get back on track.

“We hope that the government can use this opportunity for a reset and work collaboratively with industry to provide a supportive environment for small business, including a consideration of alternative means of achieving the policy objectives rather than the current onerous scheme.”

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