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Scottish travel tech companies pen open letter to First Minister

Scotland: Five travel tech companies based in Scotland have released an open letter to the First Minister, expressing their “grave concerns of the impact of short-term lets [STL] regulatory legislation and planning controls” being introduced in the country.

Property management softwares Bookster and SuperControl, holiday rental marketing platform TravelNest, on-demand luggage storage platform Unbaggaged and online booking engine FreeToBook said that they wanted to “highlight the extent of the damage being caused by the STL legislation, which will have ripple effects across a multitude of industries as well as the tourism sector of Scotland”.

The open letter read: “We, the undersigned, wish to express our grave concerns of the impact of short-term lets [STL] regulatory legislation and planning controls currently being introduced.

“As travel technology software companies founded and operating in Scotland, our existence relies on a thriving short-term lets sector in Scotland. We would not have been founded without it.

“We employ highly skilled developers, designers and marketers in Scotland to build our products and services that we sell around the world,” it continued.

The travel tech companies argued that the legislation would have a direct impact on its clients and wider economic impacts on other events and activities.

According to the Moffat Centre Short-Term Let Accommodation Evaluation Review 2022/2023 [commissioned by the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers – ASSC], over three quarters of operators [77.5 per cent] found that the STL legislation was a “significant or a medium threat to their business”.

Meanwhile, in evidence provided to the Scottish Parliament on 7 February by Julia Amour, director of festivals Edinburgh, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society estimated that a third of their programme could be lost in 2024. It added that the contraction would have a negative impact on the 4,000+ jobs and over £200 million in direct additional economic impact which the festivals bring, as well as weakening the wider leisure and visitor economy employing 44,000 in Edinburgh alone.

In October, a new licensing scheme for short-term let hosts came into effect in Scotland after multiple rounds of public consultation on how best to regulate the sector. The system introduced new rules requiring all landlords operating short-term lets before October to apply for planning permission, and new operators would have to do the same.

The rules were expected to be fully operational by the end of this month, however the time limit for hosts and operators to obtain a licence may yet be extended to the end of September to support them amid the cost of living crisis.

The open letter can be read in full at this link.

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