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Self-caterers, B & Bs and Airbnb providers could exit the vacation market due to new laws, tourism groups have warned.
A new government licensing system for short-term rentals will become law in April. The councils will apply by April 1, 2022 to establish a system and the hosts by April 1, 2023.
The Scottish Government believes this is necessary as short term rentals can have an impact on communities including noise, nuisance, anti-social behavior and reducing the housing stock that is being lost to the tourism sector.
However, opponents warn that some companies could cost thousands of pounds and many would quit, which would affect the local economy, which relies on overnight guests to stay on-site and spend money.
The Oban and Lorn Tourism Alliance (OLTA) and the Scottish Tourism Alliance are among the organizations opposed to the new regime.
Ministers said it wasn’t too “onerous” and operators would have to pay between £ 223 and £ 337 for a three-year license.
However, the Scottish B&B Association claims the cost could be up to £ 1,000 and more.
The Arrochar-based Association of Scotland’s Self Caterers (ASSC) said nearly half of its members have indicated they could leave the sector once the new fees are received.
Linda Battison, OTLA’s Marketing Director, also runs Cologin Country Chalets and Lodges. She said it could add up to £ 20,000 to her company’s cost base.
Ms. Battison said: “I am seriously concerned when this goes into effect. Oban’s tourism industry will suffer, and that will affect every other business in town.
“Self-sufficiency is an extremely popular accommodation option for visitors, especially those with pets and children. It’s Covid-proof and offers flexibility and choice.
She added, “The sector is well positioned to fuel the recovery of tourism in our area and this is the last thing it needs, on top of the increased cost of Covid compliance and another reduced season of travel restrictions and complicated Rules for households vacationing together. ‘
The government said the legislation introduces a mandatory set of standards to protect guests and neighbors in short-term rentals.
Most operators would already meet basic safety standards and most, if not all, would meet the mandatory criteria, it said.
But Ms Battison said the proposal is a “sledge hammer” approach to addressing a perceived problem with a minority of operators in Edinburgh and some tourism hotspots.
“The legislation will do nothing to address the lack of affordable housing or anti-social behavior in city center party homes,” she said. “Most councils do not welcome this and simply do not have the resources to implement the program.
“There are no grandfather rights, so those operators who have been acting legally for many years and complying with all applicable health and safety regulations still have to apply, and there is no guarantee that they will be granted a license.”
“Many self-catering properties are likely to remain empty for much of the year as owners feel the hassle and cost of complying with the new licensing scheme is simply not worth it.
“This will have a negative impact on the local economy as self-catering bars, restaurants, shops and a wide variety of tourism businesses support, especially in rural areas,” she said.