Chief Executive’s Report 2019

After several extremely buoyant years for tourism in Scotland, the latest figures from VisitScotland are concerning:

  • International trips in Q1 of 2019 are down -35% on Q1 2018
  • International spend is down -43% on Q1 2018
  • Day visits are down -3% on Q1 2018
  • Day visit spend is down -11% on Q1 2018[1]

As a sector, we have continued to face significant regulatory threats, which have been both time-consuming and challenging, including:

  • Continued negative press
  • Political pressure at the Scottish Parliament
  • The proposed amendment to the Scottish Government’s Planning (Scotland) Bill
  • Scottish Government consultation into short-term letting regulatory framework
  • Planning policy from City of Edinburgh Council
  • Transient Visitor Levy/Tourism Tax consultations from the Scottish Government and some local authorities.

In all determinations, we believe that policymakers/regulators should make informed decisions using accurate and evidence-based data, as opposed to relying on perception, anecdote or flawed studies designed to meet agenda-based policy outcomes.

To that end, we commissioned an independent report to investigate the various criticisms of the STR sector and to demonstrate the sector’s impact on key areas. Our Far More than Just Housesprovides evidence that:

  • STR cannot be blamed for exacerbating the housing crisis
  • There are negligible numbers of formal anti-social behaviour complaints
  • There is no incentive amongst traditional operators to avoid tax

Let’s also not forget the findings of our economic impact study commissioned in 2017, which clearly shows the huge benefit of our sector to the Scottish economy.

Touching on some of the bad press generated by our friends over at Airbnb (other platforms are, of course, available – but nobody seems to realise!), the reality of the big bad wolf that is Airbnbis that:

  • There are 35,000 listings on Airbnb across Scotland
  • Entire homes in Scotland listed on the Airbnb platform account for less than 1 percent of local housing stock
  • 84 percent of host accounts in Scotland have one listing on the platform
  • 51 percent of hosts in Edinburgh said they used the income from hosting on Airbnb to make ends meet
  • 77 percent of guests who stayed with Airbnb in Scotland said they use the platform for a more local, authentic experience
  • While guests using Airbnb accounted for just 3% of visitors to Scotland, the Airbnb community boosted the Scottish economy by over £693 million in 2018.

Despite all of this, the self-catering / short-term let sector continues to be blamed for all of societies woes…..

Over the last year, we have again consistently responded with positive news pieces met with local authorities and MSPs to set the record straight.

In February, we published The Long-Term Approach to Short-Term Letting, providing a solution to the perceived problem of STR impacting on housing stock in certain areas.

Read More:  CEOs Report 2019

Fiona Campbell

Chief Executive