A key figure in Scottish tourism has revealed tour operators are struggling to place visitors to Scotland because of a lack of tourist accommodation.

The impact of the situation on Scotland’s tourism industry could be significant, with half of all international visitors booked through tour operators.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said operators are also having difficulty finding places for special events such as the Edinburgh festivals.

Tour operators may shop elsewhere if Scotland’s tourism offering cannot meet demand, according to Mr Crothall.

He said international tour operators are "now struggling to place what is a demand for accommodation because it is not available in those destinations any longer".

"That has this knock-on impact," Mr Crothall told Business HQ Monthly. "Any business can take their bookings elsewhere. They know that there are other destinations that will accommodate them.

"It breaks the chain. If you run a touring business, like golf touring, you might be missing out on four or five destinations and that has a potential impact on the whole tour booking."

VisitScotland recognises tour operators' worth in its annual accounts: "With over 50% of international visitors to the UK choosing to use travel intermediaries to plan and book their travel, working with tour operators and wholesalers presents an opportunity for Scottish tourism businesses to manage capacity and build a backbone of bookings."

The Herald: Skye has also been impact, the STA saidSkye has also been impact, the STA said (Image: Getty Images)

Mr Crothall also said that "about 20 per cent" of the short-term let accommodation stock has been lost following the introduction of new laws aimed at tackling issues around housing and antisocial behaviour.

The implication of that is also significant because "it is not just an Edinburgh thing", he said, adding that "there are hundreds of properties on the Isle of Skye where homeowners are saying 'no actually I’ll just withdraw it from the market'".

Mr Crothall said: "People not staying in those properties 15 or 20 weeks of the year when they might be let out is money not being spent in the local economy."

Elsewhere, he said: "I know there are challenges around accommodation in Edinburgh for the Fringe festival in particular."

The Herald: It is claimed there are difficulties around accommodation availability in EdinburghIt is claimed there are difficulties around accommodation availability in Edinburgh (Image: Getty Images)

The alliance, made up of over 250 trade associations, businesses and destination groups, has also written to the Scottish Government seeking an extension to the next stage of the tourist tax Bill to address key details.

This comes as the City of Edinburgh Council, a key driving force for a visitor levy, found in a survey that a charge of up to five per cent was backed by the majority of respondents.

Also this week, business editor Ian McConnell asks whether whisky can offer an economic lifeline for Scotland’s island and rural communities.

"The Scotch whisky industry is ‘strategically important’ to the nation, playing a crucial role in rural and remote economies and contributing billions of pounds overall to output, experts observe," he writes.

In another Business HQ Monthly exclusive, deputy business editor Scott Wright speaks to Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, who is poised to step down after an eventful tenure that began during the foot and mouth crisis and moved through the fallout from 9/11, the Icelandic ash cloud, avian flu and the Covid pandemic.

Business correspondent Kristy Dorsey’s exclusive interview with Gordon McArthur came as Beeks Financial Cloud posted a hefty 25 per cent increase in revenues and a much larger surge in profitability.

In the quote of the week, Mr McArthur said: "It drives me nuts but we have never had a customer in Scotland."