The partnership they’ve entered into is deeply disappointing as it means we have a public body actively encouraging the growth of a sector which is depriving people of much-needed housing and causing neighbourhood disruption.Andy Wightman MSP
Scottish Greens housing spokesperson Andy Wightman MSP today (2 May) raised concerns about the Scottish Government’s tourism agency after Freedom of Information (FoI) requests revealed that VisitScotland did not keep minutes of meetings with controversial holiday accommodation provider AirBnB ahead of the recent launch of a collaborative partnership between the two organisations.
The rapid growth in short-term lets, such as many of those enabled by AirBnB, is depriving communities of badly-needed permanent housing.
The Homes First campaign run by Andy Wightman has gathered testimony from concerned residents and has demonstrated widespread unlawful letting and significant disruption to residents across Edinburgh.
FoI responses reveal that between January last year and March this year there were more than 36,921 references to AirBnB in VisitScotland internal correspondence, and 1,020 references in external correspondence between Visit Scotland and Airbnb. The two organisations met three times but VisitScotland holds no minutes of these discussions.
Andy Wightman MSP said:
“I am surprised to learn that VisitScotland has held meetings with AirBnB but kept no official minute of what was discussed despite the revelation that there are tens of thousands of references to the company in internal correspondence together with over a thousand references in external correspondence. They clearly had a lot to discuss and the public have a right to know what has been talked about in the development of this highly unusual collaboration.
“Given the huge level of public concern about the impact short-term lets are having on our communities and public purse, the government’s tourism agency needs to be much more transparent about its dealings with firms such as AirBnB. The partnership they’ve entered into is deeply disappointing as it means we have a public body actively encouraging the growth of a sector which is depriving people of much-needed housing and causing neighbourhood disruption.
“I intend to continue questioning VisitScotland about this partnership.”