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Holiday accommodation representatives withdraw from working group on regulation of short-term lets

Guest house overlooking a loch - Image credit: Alamy

Holiday accommodation representatives withdraw from working group on regulation of short-term lets

Several organisations representing self-catering businesses and B&Bs have withdrawn from the Scottish Government’s working group on the regulation of short-term lets.

Representatives of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, Airbnb, the Scottish B&B Association, and the UK Short Term Accommodation Association have quit the group, claiming it has failed to address concerns the industry has raised over proposed new measures to license holiday accommodation.

Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, called the group “nothing but a sham” and accused the Scottish Government of having “shifted the goalposts” and acted with “cavalier disregard and indifference” to the sector’s concerns and ideas.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government postponed its proposals for regulating short-term lets, which had been due to be in place by April 2022, until after the Holyrood election.

However, the tourism bodies have complained of a lack of significant changes to the legislation, which affects self-catering accommodation, B&Bs and homeshares, as grounds for leaving the working group.

The groups claim that nearly half of self-catering operators will leave the sector if the planned regulation comes into force.

Campbell said: “Despite our best efforts, and those of our colleagues across Scottish tourism, this working group has been revealed as nothing but a sham and therefore we have decided to leave it.

“Throughout the entire process, while we have acted in good faith, this government has continually shifted the goalposts and acted with cavalier disregard and indifference towards our sincere concerns and innovative ideas.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and long-before that, the Scottish tourism industry has been an example for others to follow – it is therefore extremely disappointing that our government has not held itself to the same standards and failed to back small business at this crucial time.”

David Weston, who chairs the Bed & Breakfast Association, said: Leaving the working group is not a decision that my colleagues and I have taken lightly, but there seems little point in remaining.

“We have been frustrated at every turn and it will be Scottish B&Bs that suffer if we continue to take part in what has become nothing but a charade.

“Our members expect us to act in their best interests, and in the interests of the broader tourism sector, and it has been made abundantly clear that neither the working group nor the Scottish Government are interested in that type of dialogue.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government considers regulation of short-term lets to be vital in balancing the needs and concerns of residents and communities with wider economic and tourism interests.

“We have been clear since January 2020 that regulation of short-term lets would include a licensing scheme and the focus of the working group has always been on refining and implementing that plan. 

“It is therefore surprising these organisations – who we invited to be part of the working group to express their views – have chosen to leave at this stage on the grounds we are progressing with licensing, rather than registration, which has been the case since January 2020.

“We are disappointed they have decided not to continue with their participation in the working group and thank them for the contribution to shaping the short-term lets legislation and guidance to this point.”

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