New regulations on short-term lets must not be introduced in Scotland while the hospitality industry is “on its knees” as a result of Covid-19, bosses at Airbnb have said.
Patrick Robinson, director of public policy at the lettings organisation, was speaking as a poll it carried out showed almost three-quarters (72%) of Scots believe ministers should pause new regulations that could impact on tourism until the pandemic is over.
Ministers have already said the owners of properties leased out on a short-term basis will have until April 2023 before they have to apply for a licence to operate the properties.
The changes are being brought in after residents in some communities with large numbers of short-term holiday lets complained of problems including noise and other anti-social behaviour.
The new poll, carried out by ORB International for Airbnb, found 91% of Scots believe tourism will be central to Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic.
The survey, of 1,210 people, found the NHS (55%), coronavirus (49%), and jobs and the economy (43%) are the most important issues people want ministers to focus on – with just 1% naming short-term lets as one of the three key issues they think the Government should be tackling.
More than half (53%) said the short-term letting industry could be important in encouraging visitors back to Scotland once the pandemic has stabilised and the country starts to return to normal.
Just over a third (35%) said the Government should go ahead with its current plans on short-term lets – with 53% calling on ministers not to proceed with the changes until coronavirus is under control and Scotland’s economy is stable.
Mr Robinson said: “Airbnb has long supported calls for sensible short-term lets regulation in Scotland, but not whilst the hospitality industry is on its knees.
“Scots are clear that the focus now must be on weathering the continued impact of the pandemic on communities and the economy, two-thirds have called for policies that will boost tourism in the wake of the pandemic.
“We must support everyday families that will play a vital role in Scotland’s recovery story when it is safe for travel to return and avoid putting up barriers to their entry.”
Johnny Heald, chief executive of ORB International, said: “Issues around coronavirus and the pandemic’s impact on the health service and the economy continue to be the issues that voters across Scotland are focused on.
“A significant majority of Scots want the Government to take a step back and think carefully about any policies which could negatively affect the country’s tourism sector, or the wider economy, during this difficult period.”