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Protestors call on the First Minister to think again on STL licensing

By Tom Ramage

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A LETTER signed by more than 1,500 people who work in the Scottish tourism industry has been sent to First Minister Humza Yousaf urging him to pause the Scottish Government’s plans for short-term let licensing.

There are just three weeks until all short-term lets – from self-catering units to B&Bs, or people sharing a room of their home – will have to obtain a licence to operate.

The strongly-worded letter, signed by small accommodation businesses, hosts and the associated supply chain, implores the First Minister to save the industry before it is too late.

More than 60% of signatories come from rural Scotland, highlighting the disproportionate effect of the regulations on the signatories

most rural and remote communities.

Fiona Campbell: 'Let's work together to put things right'
Fiona Campbell: 'Let's work together to put things right'

In a “final plea” to the Scottish Government ahead of the looming October 1 deadline, the 1,581 signatories, which were collected in just 36 hours, comes as MSPs are to debate STL licensing on Wednesday in the Scottish Parliament.

The letter points out that industry has always been pro-regulation, insisting that health and safety is paramount, but that legislation needs to be paused to reset the balance between the Scottish Government’s ambitions with those working in self-catering and other associated businesses.

It sets out a collaborative approach, telling of the eagerness of the sector to get around the table to discuss solutions that meet policy objectives but which will also protect livelihoods. It believes that the licensing scheme pursued by the Welsh Government would secure just that while removing the “complexity, regional variations, red tape and enormous costs of its current scheme”.

The letter points out that self-catering industry alone contributes around £1 billion to the Scottish economy, and has been a long-standing presence in many Scottish communities, yet it has been "treated as an afterthought and convenient scapegoat with poorly-designed and flawed legislation, of which the policy objective is still unclear".

As the letter notes, the “far-reaching implications and sheer number of businesses and people affected cannot be overstated”, hitting not just self-catering holiday homes, but “B&Bs to guest houses to cleaners to restaurants to taxi drivers.”

The letter ends by telling the First Minister that “the fate of Scotland’s tourism industry and the communities that depend on it, rests in your hands.”

Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, said: “This letter is yet another powerful indication of the strength of feeling within our sector about the impending disaster that is short-term let licensing and the harm it will cause those working so tirelessly in the Scottish tourism industry.

"The message to the First Minister is loud and clear: please listen to those who work day-in, day-out in our sector, pause your scheme and work with us on a viable, proportionate and balanced alternative that won’t cause untold damage to Scottish tourism. Let’s work together to put things right.”

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