Rant Warning! and The Tourists, ‘So Good To Be Back Home Again’

Every now and again we like to have a little rant on our blogs. These rants don’t tend to be about music (although we usually find an appropriate song to tag onto the end) but instead are about something in our day to day lives that is really hacking us off.

Over the last few weeks I have been totally preoccupied with the new legislation around the letting out of holiday accommodation. I don’t tend to mention my little holiday hideaway around here any more, as I’m acutely aware the owners of such premises are being blamed for pretty much all of society’s ills at present. The housing shortage, the hollowing out of communities, noisy party flats full of stags and hens…!

In my defence, the little terraced cottage we took over from our friends a few years back is only seven years old and has never been anything other than a holiday cottage since it was built. It’s just a two-minute walk away from my own house so I’m always there to greet guests and am available to help them with whatever they might need during their stay. Before accepting the booking, I can find out a bit more about the reason for their stay and so am always able to make sure the cottage is a good fit for their needs. No stag or hen parties have ever happened on my watch. In the last year I have had three sets of guests mention in their review that mine is the best holiday let they have ever stayed in, and that I’m a great host! Sounds as if I’m blowing my own trumpet doesn’t it, but despite it being very tying (as I am in effect a 24-hour concierge service), and hard work, I have learnt the ropes and feel as if I’m now pretty good at this hospitality malarkey.


‘So, what’s the problem Alyson?’ I hear you ask.

As of April 2023, Scotland will become the most heavily regulated country in the world when it comes to holiday/short-term lets. The success of the big booking platforms has meant that in places like Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, around 80% of the flats are short-term lets. This has understandably upset many of the locals and those who can’t find affordable long-term rental accommodation, so change was badly needed. Sadly, the legislation which came about as a response, is going to apply to the whole of Scotland, so even those little B&Bs, chalets and cottages on the West Coast which have been very efficiently and safely operating for decades, find themselves caught up in a welter of rules and red tape that would challenge even the most astute business brain.

At this point I just want to make it clear that I am in no way complaining about the new rules and regulations, as lord knows they were needed – it had become like the Wild West with anyone and everyone offering up a decidedly dodgy spare room with no checks being done whatsoever. My issue is this – I have been working on getting the appropriate certificates and adaptations for the cottage for over two months now and still have a long way to go. It has been very expensive, and will continue to be so, as it seems my beautiful glass doors are now going to have to be replaced too. My wee place is going to look like a miniature chain hotel with ugly signage, fire doors, and fire extinguishers in every room. It’s going to scream, ‘Are you sure you want to stay here? There is almost certainly going to be a fire what with the need for all this apparatus everywhere.’

That in itself is bad enough, but for me, and most of my other rule-abiding friends in the business, the biggest concern is that it’s not going to be policed, as no budget has been put in place for the manpower you would need to do so. As ever, those of us who jump through all the hoops and do the right thing are going to have to co-exist with those who will ignore all the new legislation and more than likely, get away with it. Anecdotally, more than half the people who offer up accommodation are still unaware of the new legislation or think it doesn’t apply to them, and that’s where we are with only a few months left to get everything in place.

But we’re going to make it really hard for you…

At the moment I am in two minds about whether I want to carry on, despite having done so much of the work needed already. I had thought the new legislation would make things better, and safer, for guests to our little country but from what I’m hearing, most of those small-scale hosts who have always followed the rules and operated in a really professional manner are going to give up, leaving only those who give the holiday letting business a bad name. Tourism in Edinburgh, which has specifically been designated a planning control zone, will fall off a cliff as very few of the properties there will be allowed to keep operating. I think we can say farewell to the Edinburgh Festival which has been the world’s largest arts gathering for decades now. I also fear for those crofting communities in the far-flung corners of the Highlands, where renting out rooms to tourists over the summer months is the only way they can get by over the tough winter months.

But I am aware this is a First World problem, and in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis this rant is perhaps verging on being tone-deaf. For those of us in areas where tourism is seasonal however, and who rely on the income from their budget range accommodation to see them through the rest of the year, it is causing real anxiety. It will take a year or two to truly filter through, but I fear all that will be left will be expensive hotel rooms, luxury homes, and corporate aparthotels. Morag from Ross-shire will have to shut the door of her wee holiday cottage for good, as it seems we can no longer trust families to spend more than five minutes in our places without setting fire to themselves, interlinked fire-alarms notwithstanding. It’s going to change the face of tourism in Scotland which makes me really sad. If you want to come and stay in some really poor unregulated accommodation however, I’m sure it will still be on offer, as no-one is going to make the effort to police it.

As for the song, I had a bit of an epiphany earlier – I was thinking…, tourists, Scots returning home to visit from elsewhere… and I remembered a concert I went to in Aberdeen many years ago when local girl Annie Lennox was lead singer with the band The Tourists. It was 1980 and they had just reached the No. 8 spot in the UK Singles Chart with this song, So Good To Be Back Home Again. Annie was indeed delighted to be back in Aberdeen that night in front of a home audience, so apt indeed. Luckily for her she could get a bed for the night at her parents’ house. For newbie bands travelling around the country in 2023, I fear they will find it nigh impossible to find any reasonably priced accommodation. Tighter rules were definitely needed but I suspect they have gone just too far, and tourists will find it really hard to visit our lovely country from next year.

So Good To Be Back Home Again by The Tourists:


Not looking for any feedback on this one as I am aware this topic is a controversial one. I’m just sad that I’ve put so much effort into my place only to have been faced first with a pandemic when we all had to stay at home, and now this. I am by nature an abider of ‘the rules’ and certainly don’t want to risk getting a criminal record for having missed a tick box on my licence. It’s a big worry for many of us. The real casualty I fear is going to be one of our most celebrated industries, Scottish tourism.

Until next time…

So Good To Be Back Home Again Lyrics
(Song by Peet Coombes)

It’s so good to be back here again
Having fun with all my friends
When everybody says hello
You know there’s nowhere else to go
It’s so good
(Ooh, ooh, ooh)
Yeah, it’s so good
(Ooh, ooh, ooh)
It’s so good to be back home again

Baby, I’ve been so far away
Been so lonely
Every night and day
There’s only one thing I wanna do
I wanna get back home to you

It’s so good
(Ooh, ooh, ooh)
Yeah, it’s so good
(Ooh, ooh, ooh)
It’s so good to be back home again

It’s so good
(Ooh, ooh, ooh)
Yeah, it’s so good
(Ooh, ooh, ooh)
It’s so good to be back home again

Baby, I’ve been so far away
Been so lonely
Every night and day
When my baby holds me tight
You know I want to stay the night

It’s so good
(Ooh, ooh, ooh)
Yeah, it’s so good
(Ooh, ooh, ooh)
It’s so good to be back home again

It’s so good to be back home again

It’s so good to be back home again