The Scottish Conservatives have criticised plans to press ahead with a crackdown on short-term lets across Scotland despite an outcry from self-catering businesses.

Operators have called for a new extension to the deadline for signing up to a licensing scheme designed to curtail the number of properties being put onto the short-term rental sector in a bid to tackle shortages of long term rental accommodation.

Neil Gray, the economy secretary, told The Scotsman there were “no plans” for the October 1 deadline to be extended for a second time despite increased lobbying from the sector.

It will be a criminal offence to let out a room or property without registering by the deadline which has already been extended by six months. The scheme covers guesthouses and bed and breakfasts, but does not include larger commercial developments such as aparthotels.

Mr Gray, asked whether he could guarantee there would not be another extension, said there were “no plans” to do so.

“We’ve been engaging very closely, I have personally with the Scottish Tourism Alliance, trying to make sure that we’re encouraging people to be applying for their licence, giving reassurance around the process, around what it means when they’re in the process on continuing to trade," he told The Scotsman.

"We’re looking to provide as much information as possible so that the trade organisations and representative organisations can encourage their members to comply with the legislation that’s been in place for a number of years...It’s not purely my area of responsibility, this is obviously across different government departments. 

"But [there are] no plans to see an extension when there’s already been a six-month extension to the licensing deadline to allow businesses to comply with it.

"We’ll do what we can to help make it as easy as possible. But there is good reason why we’re coming forward with these licences and I hope that for the majority, they will already be complying so they just need to get a licence and get it processed with local authorities and move on in a way that ensures that we’ve got a high standard in our tourism sector.”

A survey of more than 1,200 business owners by the Association of Scottish Self-caterers (ASSC) found 61 per cent of bed and breakfasts and small holiday let businesses were preparing to shut their doors at the end of September.

Data available on Inside Airbnb, which analyses figures otherwise unavailable to the public, suggests Edinburgh has around 7,700 listings, of which 6,000 have seen at least one night of occupancy in the past year.

Around 3,800 listings are considered to be “recent or frequently” booked, with an average of 184 nights booked at a cost of £153 a night. The average income of an active listing is £27,291, the website suggests.

Edinburgh City Council estimates around 80 per cent of short-term lets could close after October 1, resulting in a significant reduction in available properties. Some in the tourist industry argue this could negatively affect the sector and lead to higher prices for tourists.

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, the shadow Cabinet Secretary for Business, Economic Growth and Tourism, hit back at Mr Gray's comments.

“Neil Gray’s stubborn refusal to consider a further delay in implementing these new licensing rules for short-term lets is typical of this SNP-Green government," he said.

“Ministers like the economy secretary continue to ignore the huge concerns from those who will bear the brunt of their badly devised policies.

“The self-catering industry have highlighted that over 60 per cent of B&Bs and short-term lets are preparing to shut their doors at the end of next month, while in Edinburgh, that figure could rise to 80 per cent.

“That will have a huge and devastating effect on Scottish firms, particularly the tourism industry, and makes a mockery of Humza Yousaf’s plan to ‘reset’ his party’s relationship with business.

“Just like their insistence on pushing ahead with their shambolic Deposit Return Scheme, long after it was clear it was falling apart, this will create massive disruption and inflict unnecessary costs and damage.

“For once, the SNP-Green government must actually listen to the warnings of those affected, urgently pause these plans, and make the revisions needed to make them workable.”

Scottish Tourism Alliance chief executive Marc Crothall, last week told The Herald, the Scottish Government should bring forward a “more workable, fair, proportionate and agreeable solution” and an extension to the deadline.

Last week, the leader of Edinburgh City Council appeared to suggest the local authority wanted a deadline extension.

Scottish Labour Cllr Cammy Day said: “I understand the sector will put applications in towards the end of September for that date in October, but if they want to join us in a lobby to ask for an extension to that, we would be more than happy to have that discussion.”

However, he later clarified his comments stating the council remains “absolutely committed” to a sustainable tourism economy.