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Business Confidence

Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers Chief Executive, Fiona Campbell, said:

The rising cost of fuel is of real concern to self-catering operators across Scotland, many of whom work in beautiful, remote areas.

“While the picture remains mixed, with some operators reporting being very busy while others are not, we remain cautious of any further negative factors; including fuel costs, the impact of the war in Ukraine, and possible future COVID-19 restrictions.

“However, despite all this, and the Scottish Government’s lack of support and willingness to impose costly licensing on us, we remain open and determined to provide memory-making holidays for our guests and their families.”

The ASSC issued a Barometer survey on 19th March, which elicited 733 responses:

  • 37% said their turnover was down in 2021 compared to 2019
  • 40% said their guest numbers were down in 2021 compared to 2019
  • 37% said their bookings for 2022 are lower or substantially lower than last year (22% same)
  • Only 20% of businesses say they have recovered from Covid
  • 22% don’t know when they will recover from Covid – due to ongoing uncertainties
  • Respondents are concerned that the following will impact or significantly impact on their business:
    • Utility Price Increase:  95% (60% significantly)
    • Fuel: 80% (49% significantly)
    • STL:   92% (70% significantly)
    • Planning Control Areas:  73% (45% significantly)


  • Bookings are VERY bad, worst in 25 years! Brexit attitude has alienated European guests. We have always enjoyed lots of EU visitors, they have gone from 75% of visitor mix to 0% this year = SERIOUS decline in EU guests
  • We are a successful business in an economically fragile area with high costs because of our remoteness. Our margins are small. Cost increases will make life very difficult not just for us but the community knock on effect. 
  • There’s nothing we can do about increasing costs, these will just have to be built into pricing structures, so not much point worrying about it. STL licensing and planning control zones are a concern because it’s getting ever closer and LAs still seem to have no idea how it’s going to work
  • We are doing well with repeat bookings & recommendations, but finding it difficult to attract new business – we’ve been in business for 15 years and its never been this bad, for all of the reasons given above. 
  • All of the above are seriously stressful and make us doubt whether we should have moved to Scotland in the first place. We were unaware of the impending licencing scheme when we bought our home with 3 self-catering cottages attached just before the pandemic. If we can’t continue with the cottages, we’ll have to sell up and move home as they are no use to us in any other format, ie they can’t be sold off individually. The pandemic has hit our finances hard, as we have only just started up a few months before. We have been unable to recover financially from it. And now energy prices have been hiked which seriously impacts us as all our heating is electric.
  • The short term letting industry is highly entrepreneurial which is supposedly something the Scottish Government encourages but at every turn we are getting hammered with obstacles. We have licensing, short term let control areas and now Harvie is spouting off about minimum EPC ratings. Another really concerning thing is that in effect the control areas legislation is retrospective – how can anyone plan a business in this sort of regime?
  • Self-Catering is an exchange between host and guest but the human touch is being legislated and priced out of it.
  • There’s nothing we can do about increasing costs, these will just have to be built into pricing structures, so not much point worrying about it. STL licensing and planning control zones are a concern because it’s getting ever closer and LAs still seem to have no idea how it’s going to work
  • It’s a tough gig, and at the same time the sale price of my property as a house is making the option if quitting the industry very appealing.
  • Our biggest potential problem is the difficulties guests are finding getting to and leaving the island because of the catastrophic decline in the reliability of the ferry service to Arran, and the potential for reputational damage to the island because of that.
  • Lots of uncertainty. Not sure we will continue with the business if things become complicated and expensive . We have a wonderful house by the sea which provides wonderful family holidays . So feel sad if we are unable to provide this in the future.
  • My main and only concern really is this new licence. I neither understand it or think it’s necessary. I will be ceasing to trade I’m sure as I don’t see it as viable cost wise.
  • I’m currently applying for a certificate of lawfulness for one of my apartments and if I don’t get it, I will have to close my business down after 20+ years of operating without any neighbour complaints at all. It just seems extraordinary that that is considered acceptable by the government and the council.
  • Being in Edinburgh, I need planning permission to get a licence. Until the requirements for this are clearer, I do not know if I have a business. And certainly cannot take forward bookings.

Booking Confidence

  • Historically, at times of national crisis (the last significant one being the financial crash), when purses are squeezed, people tend to protect their primary holiday (usually the peak season family holiday) but sacrifice secondary and tertiary holidays and short breaks out of season. We also see a move to larger properties with extended families sharing as the per capita price is effectively lower.
  • We expect a significantly higher cancellation rate at time when final balances are due as people recognise the state of their finances. So, whilst many may be sitting on good peak season occupancy now they shouldn’t be complacent.
  • Significantly shorter lead times can be expected as people wait as long as possible before committing to a fairly major expenditure.
  • Unfortunately this year we have a perfect storm of very high inflation, a conflict on our doorstep which is also fuelling the cost of living crisis and the removal of travel restrictions meaning those that are brave enough to take the plunge and book a holiday are more likely to be going abroad.
  • The war will end sooner or later, a sigh of relief will be exhaled and people will still want a holiday, but will be looking for value for money which self-catering is well placed to offer.


  • There are huge concerns from Island members about the cancellation of ferries. This is being felt particularly hard on Arran, with ferry disruption resulting in appallingly frequent cancellations to ferries, unrelated to weather disruption, and less that appropriate communication CalMac.
  • Members are trying to run businesses, relying on that business to pay bills and mortgages: peoples livelihoods. One ASSC member has had 13 bookings for our business this year so far and only 3 have been able to get over to the island. This has resulted in over £3000 in lost income, in addition to the disappointments that guests face on a regular basis. The knock on effects are significant: guests book meals in local establishments and plan to visit attractions – people will begin to think twice about booking holidays on the islands. Managing guest expectations and dealing with disappointment, anger and upset on a weekly basis is also exhausting. Meanwhile, islanders plans, appointments and holidays are, of course, all cancelled too.


  • The ferry is singlehandedly destroying the Islands economy
  • The ferry service is not fit for purpose and the livelihoods of all island residents and businesses are in serious jeopardy. For many, after two years of Covid restrictions, and adapting businesses where possible, with some only just managing to keep their heads above water this is just the final straw.
  • Add to that the prospect of STL Licensing, and the increase in doing business and general uncertainty, people are beginning to give up.

Short-Term Let Licensing and Planning Control Areas

  • The Scottish Government has published updated short-term let licensing guidance for hosts and operators, and licensing authorities. This has thrown up significant concerns and we are already seeing local authorities misinterpreting the guidance with potentially devastating impacts on the small accommodation sector. Small accommodation businesses are still navigating their way out of a pandemic and facing the colossal increase in cost of doing business (see above).
  • We are already seeing legitimate businesses closing as a direct result of licensing.
  • If we don’t prevent 32 local authorities interpreting the legislation and implementing schemes this in isolation, the small accommodation sector will be devastated, with the associated knock on impact to other tourism and hospitality sectors and the onward supply chain.
  • It is imperative that we protect legitimate businesses that are a vital part of the tourism ecosystem.
  • Ministers must be cognisant of this situation.

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