Catering group warns industry faces ‘precarious’ future and appeals to First Minister as business confidence plunges

A catering trade group says the industry is facing a “precarious” future and plunging confidence - and has appealed to Sotland’s likely new First Minister John Swinney for support.

The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC), which represents over 1,700 firms, says members fear for the future of the £1bn sector.

In its latest survey, nearly half (47%) of those polled expressed little optimism about their business performance over the next 24 months.

The ASSC polled 622 self-caterers, representing over 7,200 bed spaces and nearly 2,000 properties. Some 30% of those quizzed said guest numbers were down in 2023 on the previous year, with a similar percentage (29%) noting that their turnover had declined.

Nearly half (48%) said bookings in 2024 were down compared to 2023 - and just 54% intend to stay in business beyond 2024 as a self-catering operator.

The ASSC said issues faced by members included regulations on short-term lets, changes to the Furnished Holiday Letting (FHL) tax regime and the proposed visitor levy - as well as the ongoing cost of living crisis.

The group welcomed Mr Swinney’s pledge to “operate with courtesy and patience to pursue respectful dialogue and achieve common ground with others”, and say they look forward to working with him. Mr Swinney is set to become Scotland’s new First Minister later this week.

ASSC chief executive Fiona Campbell said: “Our polling demonstrates the precarious situation self-catering businesses find themselves in with plunging levels of business confidence. However, the problems we face are not intractable as mutually beneficial solutions are readily available.

“We believe there is a real opportunity for the new First Minister to turn the page and work with business to put things right so these businesses can get back to doing what they do best in providing unrivalled hospitality and memory-making stays for guests.

“The ASSC looks forward to working constructively with the new minority Scottish Government in an atmosphere of respect and courtesy to protect our country’s £1bn self-catering industry which is so vital to many local communities.”

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