The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) is Scotland’s only self-catering trade association and has been committed to quality accommodation for over 40 years. Our Hospitality Account Executive, Derek Nicol, recently caught up with the ASSC’s Chief Executive, Fiona Campbell, to discuss the current challenges facing the industry.
FC: Scotland’s tourism industry is underpinned by a complicated ecosystem of micro-businesses. Our membership represents thousands of diverse businesses that deliver memorable experiences to domestic and international guests.
These tourism businesses support a huge supply chain from food & drink hospitality venues, to craft shops, taxis and local trades. When visitors arrive, whether from across the UK or further afield, our aim is for them to experience a Scotland which makes them want to return.
FC: In January 2020, with the proposals for short-term let legislation and tourist tax on the horizon, the ASSC published two policy papers in February and March 2020 and were actively engaged with the Scottish Government’s Short-Term Let Delivery Group.
Since Covid-19 arrived we have fought the corner of our members on everything from securing financial support, to encouraging the easing of restrictions and delivering UK-wide cleaning protocols for the sector, liaising with the UK and Scottish Governments, tourism industry bodies and local authorities.
It’s been a roller coaster and a game of chess at the same time, neither of which I am a fan of!
FC: Our membership has more than doubled in the last 15 months and strong communication is critical as we navigate through the pandemic. Our team of three work tirelessly to ensure our members can access the most up-to-date information in one place. We advise businesses on financial support, new rules, regulations and advice on re-opening on an almost daily basis. We are all on the journey together, and I am delighted that the growth in our membership reflects how we have achieved this.
FC: Partnership and collaboration is key to the success of the ASSC, and the continued success of our members. We work with leading industry partners,such as Bruce Stevenson, to provide our members with the best possible support possible. Our ‘Partners for Business’ scheme not only provides the membership with their immediate business needs but supports them with advice, blogs and newsletter articles. We see these partnerships as a key member benefit.
FC: Although plans have been put on hold during Covid-19, there remains much discussion about the pros and cons of a tourist tax. A tourist tax now appears to be inevitable. Short-term let legislation is also a big threat to the self-catering sector, perhaps more so than the pandemic.
Contrary to the current media narrative, short-term lets are not a new phenomenon. With over 40 years’ experience, we are well aware that holiday lets have always formed a crucial part of Scotland’s rich tourism offering.
FC: The self-catering sector is likely to be one of the key areas to bounce back after the pandemic considering the appeal to visitors to take a break in Scotland, especially in rural areas. The vast majority of our market is ‘local’ rather than international and people will be keen to get away from their homes after the lockdown.
The ASSC’s principles of “quality, integrity, cleanliness, comfort, courtesy and efficiency” which it encourages members to adhere to – through our ‘Committed to Quality’ scheme – and are enshrined in our Code of Conduct, speaks volumes to the importance we place on delivering a strong visitor experience. What we can guarantee, is that guests and visitors can rely on Scotland’s self-caterers to provide them with a safe, hygienic, and minimal risk environment in which they can enjoy a well-deserved and much-needed break.
If you would like to learn more about Fiona and her team's work, please visit www.assc.co.uk