Scotland’s vital tourism sector must be supported

Press Release

At a time when Scotland’s fragile rural economy is facing unprecedented changes and an uncertain future, care must be taken to ensure any changes to the regulations for short-term lets doesn’t have a negative impact on Scotland’s vital tourism sector. 

Following on from the announcement of the Scottish Government’s intention to introduce a licensing system for short-term lets, Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) has reiterated calls for the Scottish Government to ensure local authorities have the powers to apply any new regulations for short-term lets to only those areas that have recognised issues with anti-social behaviour or a housing shortage.

Marcelina Hamilton, Policy Adviser (Rural Business & Housing) commented: “We are supportive of measures to ensure that everyone in Scotland, whether you live here or are just visiting, feels safe and secure in their communities. Tourism plays an important role in Scotland, with over 15.5 million overnight tourist trips in 2018, and short-term lets have made Scotland even more accessible.  

“We support the idea of regulation and we look forward to finding out more details of the Government’s intentions. We welcome the opportunity to contribute to ensuring the right proposals on a mandatory licencing scheme and a review of tax treatment for short-term holiday lets are brought forward. Principally, it is vital that any new system of licensing brought in is not onerous and allows for an appropriate level of flexibility. 

“We recognise there are issues with housing demand in Scotland and that in certain areas short-term lets can exacerbate this. But it must also be recognised that short-term lets also offer a form of flexible and responsive accommodation that has helped develop the growth of tourism, including in remote rural communities.

“Any changes to the regulations for short-term lets must take care to ensure they focus on the areas on Scotland where there are problems. A one-size-fits-all approach will simply not work in Scotland and could penalise those self-catering businesses in areas that do not have substantial housing supply issues or problems with anti-social behaviour arising from this type of property.

“The Scottish Government are also in the middle of consultation on introducing a Transient Visitor Levy, also known as the tourist tax, and we must stress that any additional taxation for short-term lets must be complimentary to the proposals for the tourist tax.”