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Another blow for tourism

Call for rethink over minister’s self-catering ban

Fergus Ewing

Fergus Ewing: urged to rethink decision (pic: Terry Murden)

Scottish tourism was dealt another huge blow after the Scottish Government included self-catering properties in the ban on visiting other households.

The move comes after the government had said on Tuesday that self-catering properties were exempt from the tighter rules.

Tourism groups were outraged by the decision which they say threatens hundreds of businesses and people’s livelihoods.

Scottish Land & Estates, which represents rural businesses, has written to the Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing urging him to reverse this decision, warning that many holidaymakers will simply head south of the border where no ban exists.

Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates said: “Scottish tourism has been dealt another hammer blow which will cost jobs, just as the sector could see a light at the end of a very long tunnel.

“Scotland has thousands of self-catering properties, and the recent Scottish Government-funded VisitScotland campaign was extremely successful, with many properties fully booked until the end of the year by friends and families.

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“The First Minister urged Scots just the other day not to travel abroad during the October break. Now many won’t be able to support Scottish tourism, instead forcing them to look south of the border for a holiday where the rules around self-catering properties are different in some areas.

“The Scottish Government needs to urgently reverse this decision, which not only impacts on tourism businesses but will also have a knock-on impact on visitor attractions, local businesses and restaurants and pubs.

“If the government won’t reverse the decision, they need to guarantee financial support for every business impacted or quite simply, this decision will cost jobs.”

Fiona Campbell, the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers’ chief executive, said Mr Ewing should create an exemption for the £723 million sector “to salvage some dignity from this confusing, embarrassing, and undignified mess.”

Ross Ewing, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation Scotland’s political and press officer, said the U-turn was “poorly communicated and is deeply disappointing.”

He added: “While other accommodation businesses remain exempt from this rule, self-catering businesses appear to have been singled out with no real explanation at a time when they make a stalwart contribution to Scotland’s rural economy.”

Andrew Grainger, spokesman for the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group, said: “This decision comes at the worst possible time for country sports tourism.

“Self-catering accommodation is widely used by country sports enthusiasts, and it is a key enabler in allowing sporting clients to enjoy Scotland’s unique selection of country sports while simultaneously contributing extensively to the rural economy.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The position is clear and has been widely shared: only one household is permitted to share self-catering accommodation. Stakeholders have been informed, and guidance to operators is in progress.”

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