The sector claims that legislation regulating short-term rentals signals that tourists are “not welcome”.
A new licensing scheme for short-term Airbnb-like rentals is due to come into force in Scotland on October 1, with property owners having to apply for a license by then if they wish to continue their businesses.
Ministers said the regulation, which has already been delayed by six months, will ensure short-term rental properties are regulated in the same way as other types of accommodation, such as hotels and caravan parks.
But a survey by the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC), which has campaigned against the rules, had previously found that 64% of operators are considering leaving the sector because of the change.
Read more: Short term rentals in Scotland: Glasgow and Edinburgh numbers are low
With the Scottish Government being urged to suspend the new regulations, the group ‘Save Self Catering in Scotland’ will be demonstrating outside Holyrood on the day MSPs return from their summer break.
Louise Dickins, host and self-sufficiency campaigner, claimed ahead of Tuesday’s protests that ministers were “unclear” why the change was being made. Among the reasons she cited was improving health and safety and combating the housing shortage.
She added: “Two things are clear. The Scottish Government is demonizing law-abiding people who rent out their accommodation for self-catering or welcome guests in a guest room while at the same time signaling to tourists that they are not welcome.”
She called on First Minister Humza Yousaf to “put an end” to the new system, adding: “The government is depriving Scotland of the very accommodation it needs for a thriving tourism industry.”
“It destroys livelihoods while ridiculing Scotland and its ability to create coherent and lawful legislation.”
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Ms Dickins added: “It appears as if this legislation was aimed at closing 30 party flats in Edinburgh, but in reality it risks forcing the closure of two-thirds of the sector across Scotland.”
“Self-catering hosts have already left Scotland in droves and holidaymakers – who are vital to otherwise fragile communities – may soon be leaving Scotland as well.
“Other home countries will benefit from this policy while Scottish companies look on desperately.”
Ms Dickins said: “I’ve run my business for two decades, I’ve never hosted a party flat, I’ve never had a complaint, I’ve contributed to my community and so much more.”
“Why am I being penalized for the government’s inability to deal with a very small number of fraudulent operators?
Read more: Unlicensed Airbnbs: Lessons for Scotland from a global crisis
“It’s insane and Humza Yousaf needs to stop it now.”
David Weston, chairman of the Scottish B&B Association, claimed that the licensing systems to be managed by local authorities would result in “32 different, inconsistent, onerous and in some cases even illegal systems”.
Housing Secretary Paul McLennan stressed that companies and hosts “had 20 months to apply”.
He told MSPs that as of August 31, 6,323 applications had been received, adding that “slightly more than half of the applicants have been issued a license and none have been denied.”
Mr McLennan said: “Short term rentals are important to Scotland’s economy and tourism industry which continues to grow.
“The introduction of licensing, therefore, secures this important role by providing guests with peace of mind about the safety and quality of rentals such as: B. compliance with gas certificates and appropriate electrical equipment.
“We have listened and will continue to listen carefully to feedback and respond constructively. The one-time six-month extension already granted means hosts have had 20 months to complete an application. Among the thousands who have already applied, no operator has been denied a license to date.
“The responsible and balanced course of action is that everyone is committed to encouraging and supporting short-term lease operators to apply for a license before the October 1st deadline.”