Holiday lets hit by 'red tape' licensing laws as 'thousands' leave sector

Experts say the new legislation is causing 'a huge amount of stress' for accommodation providers in the tourism sector.

Tourism hotspots: Holiday lets hit by ‘red tape’ licensing laws as ‘thousands’ leave sector

Tourism hotspots across Scotland are being hit by new licensing rules that have prompted a mass closure of short-term letting accommodation.

Across Scotland, there’s a short term licence requirement for B&Bs, for home-sharing and for self-catering.

Thousands of operators are said to have withdrawn from the sector because of new red tape and the cost of complying with new legislation aimed at improving the service.

Experts warn the legislation could have major implications for the tourism landscape as many fragile communities dependent on visitors.

Fiona Campbell of the Association of Scotland’s Self Caterers said: “The Scottish Government has introduced short-term let licensing, ostensibly to deal with the health and safety of the activity.

“That’s absolutely fine but, at the same time, they interwove that with a planning consideration within that licensing which has caused a huge amount of stress both for operators but also for local authorities.

“So, in certain areas in Scotland licensing authorities are making planning considerations that they don’t necessarily understand nor are necessary.”

Short-term lets are subject to new licensing laws

She added: “Regrettably, we are seeing hundreds, if not thousands, of people leaving the sector – both in the B&Bs and, of course, self-caterers.

“Since October 1, we have already lost 5% of our membership.”

Popular spots Badenoch and Strathspey fall into a control zone, where new short-term lets will now require planning permission for a property’s change of use.

To the relief of seasoned accommodation providers, it does not apply retrospectively – unless there has been a material change in the use of a property.

While the milestone is significant for accommodation providers in Badenoch and Strathspey, it is not as daunting as it might have been.

Grantown-based planning expert Jane Shepherd said: “A lot of people were thinking ‘well, I put my application in 18 months ago, surely I should be allowed to continue’.

“There’s absolutely no way they should be retrospectively applying the short-term let legislation to people who’ve been running for many years and some over ten years.”

Many operators are soldiering on, including the owners of five-star Mount Barker B&B in Grantown on Spey, where 50% of short-term let owners have reportedly called it a day.

Owner Karen Morrison said: “We’ve put a lot of investment into the business. We’ve spent a lot of money refurbishing the property, which was quite dilapidated when we came into it having not been used as a care home.

“I really enjoy the bed and breakfast but we also have to think of the wider community. So, all of our businesses, as much as we rely on them to service our guests, they rely on us to bring in guests, as well.”

The Scottish Government and Highland Council has been contacted for comment.

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code