Edinburgh hoteliers welcome tougher restrictions on Airbnb

05 September 2022 by
Edinburgh hoteliers welcome tougher restrictions on Airbnb

Hoteliers in Edinburgh have welcomed tighter restrictions on short-term lets in the city in the hope of a "level playing field" for accommodation providers.

From 5 September, short-term let providers, such as Airbnb hosts, will have to show proof of planning permission in order to operate in the Scottish capital.

Neil Ellis, chair of the Edinburgh Hotels Association, which represents 54 hotels that cover nearly 9,000 bedrooms across the city, said: "We have been consistent in calling for a scheme that creates a level playing field that ensures that all accommodation providers in Scotland are subject to the same level of regulation as hotels.

"This will ensure the safety of guests, residents and lead to greater fairness in the application of taxation. It will also ensure that short-term lets deliver a consistently high experience to their guests."

He added: "We also believe that the increase of short-term lets in sensitive urban and rural locations does nothing to enhance the visitor experience. A licensing scheme can help balance this, ensuring that our city and country continues to enjoy the benefits of tourism, with visitors choosing the destination and returning to Scotland to enjoy all that is on offer."

Earlier this year, the Scottish government passed separate legislation for a mandatory licensing scheme that will require all short-term lets to be licensed by July 2024.

It follows drawn-out government discussions on increased regulation of short-term lets in Scotland.

In February 2021, the Scottish Parliament's Local Government and Communities Committee voted to push ahead with stricter regulation of short-term lets, while the consultation for a designated short-term let control zone in Edinburgh began in autumn 2021.

According to committee documents, there were approximately 32,000 Airbnb listings in Scotland pre-pandemic.

However, UK Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA) raised concerns that the introduction of a short-term let control area in Edinburgh could set a "dangerous precedent" across Scotland, as well as triggering a set of financial repercussions.

Shomik Panda, director general of the STAA, said: "This is a worrying move by the Scottish government. We genuinely believe that this will have a negative impact on Edinburgh's tourism economy and if rolled out to other areas of Scotland will further damage a valuable income stream as tourists will not have a large enough accommodation inventory to choose from and will end up going elsewhere.

"We'd like to think that the devolved administrations in England and Wales will learn from Scotland's mistakes and work with the industry to design a workable set of regulations that tackle challenges without destroying the economic benefits that short-term rentals bring."

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