ASSC Chief Executive, Fiona Campbell, was involved in a round table discussion focused on recovery, hosted by Douglass Ross MSP, Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, Murdo Fraser, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery. and Liz Smith, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Finance.
As businesses seek to understand how the UK and Scottish governments will approach post Covid-19 recovery amidst the prospect of a second independence referendum, Fiona has been invited to join a conversation with the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
The ASSC also met with Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, Ivan McKee MSP this morning as part of the Scottish Tourism Alliance Council. We welcome Mr McKee’s commitment to a further meeting to discuss issues in greater depth. Mr McKee spent over an hour with the group of sectoral leads and businesses organisations, hearing sector by sector about the enormous challenges facing the diverse make up of Scotland’s tourism businesses.
Direct representations and comment were made by the following:
Scottish Destination Management Association
Scottish Wedding Industry Alliance
Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers
Cairngorms Business Partnership
The following issues were discussed around the table:
We continue to raise the following issues:
Many larger self-catering properties, which typically accommodate more than seven people, are in a perilous financial state due to the impact of household meeting restrictions. Larger self-catering businesses have only had 10 weeks of viable trading in Summer and Autumn of 2020 and many are struggling to cope. The restrictions on households also mean that those larger properties that do open will continue to face significant restrictions, even when Scotland finally enters level zero.
Such properties require financial support in order to ensure their sustainability. We note that the Exclusive Use and Large Self-Catering Grant scheme allocated a total of £2,892,000 to 1,373 premises (Scottish Government, COVID-19 BUSINESS SUPPORT EXPERIMENTAL STATISTICS: STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK BUSINESS FUND (TRANCHE 6) AND OTHER LOCAL AUTHORITY SUPPORT SCHEMES, May 2021). The Scottish Government pledged £7m to this fund. We are therefore urging the Scottish Government to redeploy the underspend and consider the urgent financial needs of these larger properties that cannot trade viably while the household restrictions are ongoing. We are not asking for new support, but for the support that was committed to our sector in December 2020.
We are extremely concerned that the Scottish Government’s plans to introduce short-term let licensing will materially damage the position of the Scottish tourism sector. The ASSC have put forward a more targeted and bespoke response through the introduction of a registration scheme, with mandatory health and safety criteria as the most proportionate and achievable for Scotland.
It is important to note that our proposal has an unprecedented level of cross-industry support, from traditional operators, trade associations and online platforms who, despite representing different stakeholders, stand united in their support for this approach. Given the huge economic impact of short-term letting in Scotland, we believe it is vital that these regulations are viewed in a holistic context – not just for the Housing Directorate – but one encompassing Tourism, Economy and Covid-19 recovery.