The Scottish Government has been warned that its plans for a Licensing Scheme for Short-term Lets could devastate Scotland’s Bed and Breakfast sector.
That was the stark warning from David Weston, Chair of the Bed and Breakfast Association, at an emergency webinar organised by Destination Management Organisation, SkyeConnect today (14th January 2021).
The webinar, attended by more than 70 Bed and Breakfast providers from Skye, was arranged to highlight the impact of the unexpected inclusion of B&B’s in the Short-Term Let Licensing Legislation.
The meeting was jointly chaired by David Weston of the B&B Association and Fiona Campbell, Chief Executive of the Association of Scotland’s self-Caterers.
Fiona Campbell told the meeting that the Legislation in its current form will impact every single Self Caterer and B&B across Scotland and urged every business to write to their MSP as a matter of urgency to set out the impact of the proposed licensing scheme.
“The regulation that B&B and self-catering is facing may well inflict the kind of damage on our vital sector from which it will never recover. The ASSC believes that a licensing system is a blunt tool to fix a perceived and localised problem of amateur operators in Edinburgh, rather than being a solution that is appropriate for the whole of the Scotland.”
Included in a raft of onerous impacts of the Licensing Legislation, is the potential imposition of annual Licensing and monitoring fees that could amount to over £2000 per business, guest arrival and departure curfews, occupancy limits and regular property inspections.
In a poll of 1,184 members of the ASSC, one-in-three operators said that the heavy-handed regulations would cause their businesses to become unviable. Worse still, nearly half (49%) of operators said that they would leave the industry and a third of those said they would leave their proprieties empty or convert them to private use.
Chair of the B&B Association, David Weston, is in no doubt that Licensing will have a devastating impact in the sector which is already reeling from the impact of Covid-19.
“It was great to be able to talk to so many hospitality business owners on Skye in the SkyeConnect webinar today. These microbusinesses - like many thousands across Scotland - are a keystone of Scotland’s tourism offer to domestic and international visitors. In the islands, highland and rural areas and villages across the country, B&Bs and self-catering properties are often the only tourism accommodation, and the spend by their guests supports these fragile economies.
The business owners on today’s webinar were understandably very concerned that the poorly-drafted “Short-Term Lets” licensing legislation would be hugely onerous to microbusinesses in Skye and right across Scotland and would be a catastrophic ‘double whammy’ after these very same, small family businesses have been so disproportionately hit by Covid-19.”
The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee has requested written evidence from stakeholders by the 22nd of January and will meet on the 27th of January to endorse or reject the regulations.
Dave Till, the Chair of SkyeConnect says the industry does not have much time to influence the regulations. “SkyeConnect knows how damaging the Licensing Legislation will be to the tourism and wider economy of Skye and Scotland as a whole and that’s why we felt the need to bring the sector together for today’s webinar. We urge everyone with an interest to write to their MSP and submit evidence to the Committee as soon as possible to stop the imposition of such onerous regulation.”