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Highlands MSP claims licensing scheme for short-term lets will damage tourism sector

By Gavin Musgrove

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Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston.
Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston.

Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has described a decision to impose further regulations on short-term lets as damaging for the hospitality and tourism sector in areas like Badenoch and Strathspey which depend heavily on tourism for jobs and livelihoods.

Mr Halcro Johnston, the Scottish Conservative Shadow Minister for Business and Tourism, spoke out after MSPs voted earlier this week to introduce a new licensing scheme for short-term lets.

The measure was opposed by Scottish Conservatives but supported by members of the SNP-Green Government.

He said: “I strongly believe that these regulations are wrong coming at a time when the tourist economy has suffered hard from restrictions over the last two years.

"We should instead be backing this vital part of the Highlands and Islands economy and ensuring that businesses can get back on to a stable footing.

“For an area like Badenoch and Strathspey, which has such a high economic dependence on tourism, this is a worrying development which will only add to the burden faced by local businesses.

“It is very difficult to avoid the conclusion that SNP and Green politicians in Holyrood, focused on the Central Belt, have ignored the impact their regulations will have on rural areas.

“It’s very telling that industry bodies such as the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) have complained that ministers have refused to engage with them.

“As Shadow Tourism Minister I will certainly continue to engage with both the sector and Ministers on these issues to try and ensure that a licensing scheme, when introduced, will be applied in the most sensible way possible.

“The measures are very likely to have a disproportionately severe effect in the Highlands and Islands and we must work as hard as possible to mitigate their impact.”

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