FIFE’S tourism industry is looking at a big change after the Scottish Government’s short term let licence application deadline passed on Sunday. 

Local councillors and industry experts are not convinced it'll be one for the better with fears it'll drive hosts out of business.

As of October 1, owners of guest houses, bed and breakfasts, Airbnb and self-catering accommodation must have a new short term let licence (STL). 

The Scottish Government said the scheme would “ensure basic safety standards are in place" and give "discretionary powers to licensing authorities to address the needs and concerns of local communities”. 

But David Weston, chairman of both the Scottish and UK B&B Associations, said: “We think it’s going to hit Scottish tourism quite considerably.

"There will be a loss of tourist accommodation and the ones that remain will put up their prices. We think it’s a mistake all around. 

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“This should have been to do with the health and safety of tourist accommodation, but it’s become tied up with things like affordable local housing issues.

"B&Bs have got caught up with it when they weren’t the original issue.” 

Councillor Altany Craik doesn’t believe the scheme will accomplish what it sets out to do. 

“The aims are laudable – it’s trying to get everyone onto a level playing field and a level of quality assurance about what’s on offer," he said.

"Unfortunately this scheme doesn’t really deliver that. 

Central Fife Times: Fife councillor Altany Craik said the new scheme will have unintended consequences.Fife councillor Altany Craik said the new scheme will have unintended consequences. (Image: Fife Council)

“It creates a bureaucratic problem for people who are long established businesses, and I don’t think it will address the key issues it was trying to address – which was Airbnb and anti-social behaviour in cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow.” 

He continued: “It’s another level of accreditation which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it really has to be proportionate and it has to deliver the improvements which we would all want to see with short term lets and in our tourism infrastructure for Fife.

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"I don’t think it does that. It is probably more of an inhibitor than any help.”

Ahead of the deadline, Fife Council received almost 800 licence applications.

They did not have numbers for how many guest houses, bed and breakfasts, Airbnb's and self-catering accommodation are in the Kingdom.

Most are thought to be in the St Andrews and East Neuk areas and a council statement said: “In these areas, the prevalence of STLs will restrict the alternative housing options for people looking to buy properties or rent privately.

"The council aims to widen housing options in all areas of Fife to enable access to affordable housing.” 

Cllr Craik said the scheme has created anxiety for many of Fife’s established businesses, concern about additional costs and a belief that the people who are “most likely to be problematic probably won’t get a licence anyway".

He added: “The bigger concern for me is will the scheme have unintended consequences – will it mean a reduction in lets available as people exit that market place saying ‘it’s more difficult than it needs to be, I’ll go and do something else.”