Cruise Arrivals


Government postpones ‘ill-thought-out’ accommodation licensing scheme

The Scottish Government’s decision to delay the introduction of its short-term lets licensing scheme by six months has been welcomed by both Orkney’s MSP and the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC).

The cabinet secretary responsible for the scheme, Shona Robison, confirmed to the Social Justice, Housing and Local Government Committee that the government intends to amend the legislation next month to delay the date by which existing hosts must apply for a short-term licence from April 1 to October 1, 2023.

The legislation, passed earlier this year, makes it a legal requirement for anyone renting property on a short-letting basis to hold a licence.

Liam McArthur supported the ASSC’s call for an extension to recognise the pressure on short-term let hosts and businesses at this time in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis and in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Mr McArthur has previously warned of the disproportionate impact of the short-term lets scheme on rural and island communities and supported the association’s alternative proposals for mandatory registration rather than a full licensing scheme.

Responding to the news, he said: “This decision offers some much-needed respite to tourism businesses in Orkney and across the country. It has been hard-won and I pay tribute to the ASSC and wider tourism sector who have made the compelling case for this delay.

“It is clear that this ill-thought-out scheme threatens to impose an additional financial burden on accommodation providers already struggling with a cost-of-living crisis. That could undermine the viability of many small businesses.

“Having railroaded the legislation through parliament, I’m relieved that Scottish Ministers have at least now accepted the case for pausing the introduction to allow more time for the sector to prepare.

“Even so, the scheme has already forced some local accommodation providers out of the sector. As welcome as the delay might be, therefore, it should be recognised that it comes too late to avoid damage being done to Orkney’s vital tourism sector.”