SLE Joins Tourism Bodies in Backing Highland Council Opposition to Short-Term Lets Licensing

Press Release

SLE and two leading Scottish tourism organisations have welcomed a motion passed by Highland Council in support of Scotland’s self-catering sector.

SLE, the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC), and the Scottish Bed and Breakfast Association (SBBA) have all expressed thanks to councillors who passed the motion, which urges the Scottish Government to ditch its planned licensing scheme for self-catering.

Specifically, the motion calls for the Scottish Goverment to instead adopt the ASSC’s proposed mandatory registration scheme, dismissing the current proposed plans for licensing as “not appropriate for the Highlands."

Councillor Gordon Adam, who spoke in favour of the motion, criticised the Scottish Government’s plans for a licensing as being unfair, costly, and especially unfit for purpose in the Highlands.

The full text of the motion reads:

“Council strongly urges the Scottish Government to drop its proposed licensing scheme for short-term holiday lets and instead adopt the registration scheme proposed by the Association of Scottish Self Caterers. This would be far less costly for operators and less onerous for the Highland Council to administer, whilst providing proven health and safety protection. The proposed scheme is not appropriate for the Highlands.”

The motion passed by 20 votes to 18 at full council.

The short-term letting and wider tourism industry has repeatedly called for the Scottish Government to listen to expert industry concerns and to opt for a more flexible, proportionate, and business-friendly registration scheme.

Scottish self-catering is a vital part of the country’s world-famous tourism offering and the Highlands are well-renowned as having some of the most stunning and welcoming places to stay.

If licensing was brought in, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic which has decimated the industry, there is the real possibility that many small businesses may see their livelihoods threatened.

Commenting Scottish Land & Estates Policy Adviser, Simon Ovenden, said:

‘’We are happy to see a practical and proportionate response from Highland Council on the issue of short-term lets legislation.

“We hope that the Scottish Government listens to Highland Council as it is local authorities across Scotland who will be responsible for implementing the national regulations.

‘While we recently welcomed the Scottish Government recognising the collective call of stakeholders including SLE to have a serious reassessment of its short-term lets proposals, there remains outstanding issues and we are looking forward to meeting with the Cabinet Secretary soon to find a workable solution for all and ensure that rural needs, including those in the Highlands, are fully met.’’

You can read SLE's full submission to the Scottish Government short-term lets consultation here.