A TOURISM industry trade group has said that new First Minister Humza Yousaf’s decision not to appoint a dedicated Tourism Minister is “highly perplexing”, paying tribute to Ivan McKee, the former minister for business, trade, tourism and enterprise who quit the government earlier this week.

Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, said: “Given the immense challenges facing the tourism sector at the current time – from the impact of the cost of living crisis to pandemic recovery – the lack of a dedicated Tourism Minister is highly perplexing.

“An industry employing so many people in Scotland that generates billions for the economy should be a priority, not an oversight.”

Mr McKee is understood to have stepped down after Mr Yousaf offered him a job he considered a demotion.

While welcoming Shirley-Anne Somerville, the new Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice following Shona Robison’s promotion to Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Paul McLennan, who has been appointed Minister for Housing, Ms Campbell added: “We await clarity on the precise responsibilities of each ministerial role. Ministerial appointments will be approved by the Scottish Parliament today.

“We look forward to engaging with them on matters of importance to Scotland’s £867 million self-catering industry and ensuring that an evidence-led approach is taken towards regulation.

“We pay tribute to Ivan McKee for his contribution in government and the importance he stressed on resetting business-government relations. We recently held a constructive meeting with him setting out the concerns of our members regarding the onerous short-term let licensing scheme.”

The ASSC recently called for a reset in government-business relations following Mr Yousaf’s election as First Minister and welcomed his commitment to an “open door” policy to business stakeholders.

Ms Campbell said: “Small businesses in Scotland are the lifeblood of our economy and they need to backed, not burdened. For short-term let regulation, we have a proportionate and balanced solution which will meet policy objectives without damaging Scottish tourism and we sincerely hope that this can now be actively considered by the Scottish Government.”

The ASSC represents over 1,700 members who operate businesses across Scotland and has previously referred to a “neverending juggernaut of regulation” amid the cost of living crisis and Covid recovery.