Scotland’s short-term let sector represents a significant part of the tourism economy and contributes directly to local communities.

The Scottish Tourism Alliance, along with colleagues from a number of business organisations within in Scotland have consistently highlighted the unintended consequences of the STL legislation directly to the Scottish Government and evidenced a picture of irreversible damage to Scotland’s tourism offering and future competitiveness.

The evidence which we see unfolding points to a significant loss of availability of the variety of accommodation that visitors of today and tomorrow seek.

Insights from the major global and sectoral booking platforms highlight that there is a significant and increasing level of demand by today’s traveller, both business and leisure, who are searching for a wide range of accommodation options.

Scotland can ill afford to diminish its blend of accommodation in the context of today’s travel trends in a market where global competition has never been tougher.

We already know of several tour operators trying to book accommodation for 2024 and experiencing the growing loss of available short-term lets available as a result of this impending policy.

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It is vital that we have the right blend and sufficient volume of accommodation on offer to attract business and leisure visitors who spend money in local communities - our shops, restaurants, pubs, bars, visitor attractions and in the night-time economy.  All those businesses, now more than ever rely on there being a sustainable growing level of trade.

A conservative estimate of the economic impact, according to the Association of Scotland’s Self Caterers, should legislation proceed in its current form suggests that 7,000 jobs will be lost with a potential £133m hit to the economy. That is the direct impact on self-catering operators; the actual figure is likely to exceed this in relation to the impact on activity providers (cleaners/laundry providers), attractions and hospitality.

The tourism sector is still recovering from the effects of the pandemic and Brexit and can ill afford to have any barriers or the introduction of economically damaging policies which compromise its ability to recover to a sustainable level and be competitive both on price and available tourism product offer, particularly when so many other nations are investing heavily in their tourism proposition financially and with supportive policy.

PART ONE: Scotland’s short-term lets law: 'The failure of operators rests with them'

PART TWO: Highland tourism hotspot chief: 'We are running towards the cliff edge'

PART THREE: Airbnb-style short-term lets clampdown: Best B&B in Scotland faces closure

Leaders of many business organisations and property owners have consistently highlighted that the licensing scheme, if continued to be applied as is by some authorities, will have unintended consequences which will deliver negative impacts rather than good; those consequences are far-reaching and impact the wider economy, beyond what is considered to be "pure tourism".

This is a high-risk policy of great economic harm to Scotland’s communities, particularly those who rely on our tourism economy, which is far-reaching across all sectors of the economy not just front-line tourism and hospitality business; it includes those in the supply chain too and the retail and finance industry.

There remains extreme concern across all business sectors within Scotland in relation to what will be a devastating policy for the economy and indeed the Scottish Government’s commitment to the New Deal which has the primary aim of working with businesses to get policy detail right and avoid unintended consequences.

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However, as much as the legislation in its current format is undesirable, onerous and complex, we would urge owners within local authority areas where there is no legal challenge or proof of illegality to submit their application before 30th September to avoid having to cease trading on 1st October. Businesses who have not submitted an application cannot legally take future bookings.

We have been assured by the Scottish Government that ministers and officials are both committed to processing lodged application submissions in time and that they will take a light-touch approach to the applications, working with owners to help get them through the approval process.

The STA will however continue to call for corrective action to be taken by local authorities where there is already proven illegality or there is a justified legal challenge, calling for a fair and more proportionate approach to be adopted. We will also continue to request that more time be given to business in these specific authority areas to apply whilst corrective action is being taken by the local authorities.

In the meantime, there is no doubt within Scotland’s business community, that should the Scottish Government’s Short-Term Let legislation continue to be applied without this pause for reflection and correction, where needed, it will put Scotland at a significant disadvantage in terms of competitiveness.

Marc Crothall is chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance