In advance of the Scottish Parliament Election, parties have unveiled their manifestos. Below you can find the most relevant commitments for our sector.
Please note that there was no mention of short-term lets or a tourism levy in the document.
- 100% rates relief for tourism & hospitality for 2021-22
- Launch a campaign to encourage people to support local tourism and hospitality in Scotland when safe to do so
- Develop a global campaign for Scotland, increasing ‘Scotland is Now’ activity and launching a brand marque for Scotland, to help boost tourism, migration, and investment
- Maintain investment of £6.2 million per year in the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund to alleviate some of the pressure that tourism can have on local rural communities
- Expand the Islands Passport to encourage more people to visit more of our islands, promoting more off season visiting and creating more equitable benefit for communities
- Invest a further £1 million in a Seasonal Ranger scheme to help support responsible tourism in our rural and remote areas
- Work with the sector to boost efforts to make tourism more environmentally sustainable
- Support the recommendations of the Tourism Recovery Taskforce and create a £25 million fund to help drive a strong tourism recovery, including providing thousands of vouchers for short breaks and days out to carers, people with disabilities and families on low incomes, and creating a Net Zero Pathway for industry, focussed on protecting and enhancing our natural assets and delivering a low carbon future for our visitors and communities
- Work with the aviation sector in Scotland to help it recover and rebuild connectivity for business and tourism once we are able to safely lift travel restrictions
- Develop a growth strategy for agri and food tourism, including refreshing the food tourism action plan
- Support the sustainable growth of marine tourism to over £0.5 billion turnover by 2025.
- Maintain the Small Business Bonus for the lifetime of the parliament – ensuring 100,000 business properties pay no rates.
- Deliver a further 100,000 affordable homes by 2032
- Reform existing Rent Pressure Zone legislation to ensure local authorities can use it to directly address and cap unreasonably high rents in localised areas. This will be incorporated in a new Housing Bill to be introduced early in the next Parliament.
The manifesto can be accessed here.
Scottish Green Party
In terms of relevant policy commitments, they pledge to do the following:
- Short-term lets and housing: “ensure that short-term holiday lets are regulated and require planning consent for second homes” / “ensure that rural communities are not damaged by tourism through reserving certain rural areas/ properties exclusively for permanent residencies.”
- Tourist taxes: “ensure the implementation of tourism levies where appropriate”.
The Scottish Greens manifesto which can be accessed here.
Scottish Liberal Democrats
The relevant commitments are as follows:
- Introduce proportionate short-term let licensing to sustain communities and provide support to local authorities who are struggling to provide the permanent homes people need.
- “We recognise that Scottish tourism business had a difficult pandemic. Too many of them were not eligible for support schemes until very late, if at all. The uncertainty and the constantly changing regulations during the pandemic made it difficult to plan. We hope that the industry can look forward now to a brighter future, especially with more people choosing holidays in Scotland.”
- Take steps to give quality Scottish tourism the best possible opportunity to succeed.
- Enact a substantial programme of capital works in tourist areas to provide better car parking, electric charging points and signage to manage tourist numbers better.
- Aim to create and publicise a network of public toilets with waste and rubbish disposal points across Scotland.
- Reform business rates, including a land value element for the new system, and give local councils control of the level of tax and reliefs in their area.
Their manifesto can be accessed here.
Short-Term Let Regulation
“The SNP have taken a one-size-fits all approach to managing short-term lets, damaging B&Bs and self-catering accommodation in an attempt to manage the Airbnb boom.”
- The party are opposed to any regulation that does not put local choice at its heart and fails to distinguish between established accommodation providers and the recent boom in short-term lets.
- Given the reliance on domestic tourism this year, deliver a fresh campaign to market Scotland as the destination of choice for the rest of the UK
- Promote responsible tourism, so that businesses bring benefits to the communities and environment that they are located in
- Oppose the SNP’s plans for a tourist tax.
- Look to offer at least 25 per cent rates relief to businesses in 2022-23
- Maintain the poundage rate freeze until the 2023 revaluation
- Retain the Small Business Bonus Scheme and introduce a more tapered scheme on rates relief for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 and £20,000 to remove the cliff edge on relief
- Undertake a wholesale review of the business rates system before the end of the Parliament. This work would be informed by the ongoing review in England.
- Introduce a 10-working day national standard for all grant applications to be processed, with support for councils that are lagging behind
- Simplify the interface for businesses to access government support, both for COVID and non-COVID related funding
- Ensure that businesses likely to remain closed for the longest continue to receive regular payments
- Delay the introduction of any new non-COVID related regulations on businesses to April 2023
- Introduce a one-week minimum adaptation period between the announcement and introduction of new restrictions, in the instance that they are required for a future local or national outbreak.
The document can be accessed here.
Here are the relevant commitments:
- “We will develop a stronger regulatory framework for short term lets, including the licensing provisions and taxation of Airbnb after the chaos of SNP attempts at reform. This will ensure that our tourism industry is protected to grow after the effects of the pandemic, while taking account of local housing need.”
- To help protect housing stock in areas of high demand we will install a regulatory framework for short-term lets, including the licensing provisions and taxation of Airbnb.
- Roll out the Great Scottish Staycation 2021, with Scottish Government funded subsidies of holiday accommodation across Scotland whereby any tourist travelling within or to Scotland receives every 3rd night of accommodation free on off-peak dates between September to November 2021.
- Develop a new sustainable national plan for tourism based on improving our offer to visitors while reducing resource use and waste, minimising the transport impact, and protecting our natural and cultural heritage.
- Support the establishment of a Business Restart Fund to continue to support businesses facing financial hardship as a result of restrictions.
Their manifesto can be read here.
Alba are only standing on the regional list and they are for the most part a single issue party, seeking to obtain a ‘supermajority’ for independence and begin negotiations with the UK Government on the delivery of a second referendum.
The manifesto does contain some other policies apart from on the constitution but there was no mention of short-term lets or tourism in general in the document.
The manifesto can be seen here.