The Scottish Government has been accused of “demonising” the operators of short-term let accommodation after refusing to buckle to pressure for a re-think.

The sector has claimed that the legislation regulating short-term lets signals that tourists are “not welcome”.

A new licensing regime for short-term, Airbnb-style lets is due to come into force in Scotland on October 1, with property owners having to apply for a licence by then if they wish to continue trading.

Ministers have said the scheme, which has already been delayed by six months, will ensure short-term let properties are regulated in the same way as other types of accommodation, such as hotels and caravan parks.

But a survey by the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC), which has campaigned against the rules, had previously found 64% of operators are considering leaving the sector because of the change.

Read more: Scotland short-term lets: Glasgow, Edinburgh numbers low

With the Scottish Government facing calls to pause the new regulations, the Save Self Catering in Scotland group is to demonstrate outside Holyrood on the day MSPs return from their summer recess.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s protest, self-catering host and campaigner, Louise Dickins, claimed ministers had been “unclear” why the change was being made, with improving health and safety and tackling the housing shortage amongst the reasons given.

She added: “Two things are clear. The Scottish Government is demonising law-abiding people who let their properties for self-catering or welcome guests into a spare bedroom, while at the same time signalling to tourists that they are not welcome.”

Calling for First Minister Humza Yousaf to “put a stop” to the new system, she added: “The Government is stripping Scotland of the very accommodation needed for a thriving tourism industry.

“It is destroying livelihoods, all the while making a mockery of Scotland and its ability to form coherent and lawful legislation.”

Read more: Edinburgh City Council's Airbnb crackdown plans ruled 'unlawful'

Ms Dickins added: “It appears that this legislation was designed to close 30 party flats in Edinburgh, but the reality is that it risks forcing the closure of two thirds of the sector across Scotland.

“Self-catering hosts have already abandoned Scotland in their droves, and holidaymakers – who are vital to otherwise fragile communities – may soon abandon it too.

“Other home nations will win from this policy, while Scottish businesses look on in despair.”

Ms Dickins said: “I’ve run my business for two decades, I have never hosted a party flat, I have never had a complaint, I have contributed to my community and more.

“Why am I being punished for the Government’s inability to deal with a very small number of rogue operators?

Read more: Unlicensed Airbnbs: Lessons for Scotland from a global crisis

“It’s madness and Humza Yousaf needs to put a stop to it now.”

With the licensing schemes to be operated by local councils, David Weston, the chairman of the Scottish B&B Association, claimed this would result in “32 different, inconsistent, onerous and in some cases, actually illegal schemes”.

Housing Minister Paul McLennan stressed that businesses and hosts "have had 20 months in which to apply".

He told MSPs that 6,323 applications have been received as of August 31, adding that "just over half of applicants had been issued with a licence, with none having been refused".

Mr McLennan said: “Short-term lets are important for Scotland’s economy and tourism industry, which continues to grow.

“The introduction of licensing therefore safeguards that significant role by providing assurance to guests on the safety and quality of lets, such as gas certificate compliance and suitable electrical equipment.

“We have listened and continue to listen carefully to feedback and to respond constructively. The one-off six-month extension already granted means hosts have had 20 months to complete an application. No operator to date has been refused a licence, among the thousands that have already applied.

“The responsible and balanced course of action is for everyone to get behind the task of encouraging and supporting short-term let operators to apply for a licence before the 1 October deadline.”