Media release: Self-catering sector worth an estimated £700m-plus to Scottish economy


Self-catering most popular in the Highlands

THE self-catering sector is worth an estimated £700 million-plus to the Scottish economy – according to a major new study.

The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) is the trade body representing the self-catering industry in Scotland. And its economic impact study of the traditional self-catering sector in Scotland reveals the true value of this essential part of the tourism mix and its vital contribution to the Highland economy.

This most comprehensive study carried out in the sector in recent years indicates that there are 16,949 self-catering holiday let properties in Scotland, with the greatest number (3,982) located in the Highlands.

The self-catering sector represents an estimated 3.4million visitor nights per year (1.8million non-Scottish visitors) generating an annual spend of £723.3 million (£470.1 million from non-Scottish visitors) and supporting 10,725 direct jobs including 2,884 in the Highlands alone.

Begins a spokesperson: “Self-catering is an important part of Scotland’s tourism sector and estimates from Scotland’s Visitor Survey 2015 show that approximately 23 per cent of all tourist visitors to Scotland stay in self-catering accommodation.

“The Highlands and Argyll and the Isles were the most-visited areas, accounting for just under half – 45 per cent – of all visits to Scotland – at 25 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively.

“Not surprisingly, self-catering is a key component in rural tourism and the study reveals that rural areas in Scotland had the greatest number of bookings with 81 per cent of all bookings being made for ‘remote rural’ (48 per cent) or ‘accessible rural’ (33 per cent) properties.

“The Highland region (as defined by VisitScotland) took the greatest number of all bookings at 26 per cent and 27 per cent of all non-UK bookings. A percentage bettered only by the Scottish capital, with 43 per cent of non-UK bookings.”

David Smythe, chair of ASSC’s board of directors, commented: “The report compares the economic impact of the self-catering sector with other sectors of the rural economy and clearly demonstrates its value.

“In terms of direct Gross Value Added (GVA), the Highlands benefits more from self-catering than any other region of Scotland. It is significant to the future sustainability of our rural towns and villages.”

Robert Kennedy, managing director of SuperControl booking and management system, added: “We’re delighted to have contributed to this ground-breaking research project. It’s such an important study for the Scottish tourism sector and it’s fantastic the ASSC has decided to focus on this.”

ASSC’s members are primarily involved in the traditional self-catering sector; properties providing holiday accommodation for visitors and the report focuses on this segment.

However, there are other models of short-term let operations whose economic contribution is growing quickly, particularly in cities – whereas traditional holiday short-term lets, as the research confirms, are predominantly rural or semi-rural.

Perhaps of most significance is the ‘sharing economy’ (short-term letting via online platforms) and serviced apartments, which provides amenities along the same lines as a traditional hotel (serviced accommodation).

The ASSC is working with these new and fast-growing sectors to ensure that operators are aware of their legal obligations regarding tax, health and safety and insurance and encouraging new operators to work within the ASSC’s Code of Practice for ‘Short Term Letting in Scottish Cities’.

ASSC’s CEO, Fiona Campbell, commented: “Our research clearly shows the value and contribution that traditional self-catering makes to the Scottish economy.

“Short-term letting through the ‘sharing economy’ is also a fast-growing contributor, but we only work with operators who can commit to our quality values, maintaining the principles of “comfort, cleanliness, courtesy and efficiency” offering visitors to Scotland consistently high standards within their self-catering properties.”


Notes for editors:

About the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers Ltd

The ASSC is the only trade group representing the interests of more than 650 self-catering operators in Scotland. Formed in 1976, the association has recently incorporated as a cooperative company limited by guarantee. Its members are committed to the ASSC’s core principles of quality, cleanliness, comfort, courtesy, efficiency and integrity.

The association’s consumer brand is EMBRACE SCOTLAND and its website features a comprehensive directory of 100 per cent quality-assured self-catering accommodation throughout Scotland. All the rental homes featured on the Embrace Scotland website are run by owner/managers who are members of the ASSC – bookings are made direct with no commission.

For more information, go to and

High-quality digital images are available, on request, showing a range of rural and semi-rural self-catering properties belonging to ASSC members.

About the report

The evaluation of Scotland’s traditional self-catering sector was carried out by Frontline Consultants. The results provide an area-by-area breakdown of the sector’s expenditure.

The research

Assesses expenditure by property-owners and managers, and visitors in the local economy; provides an independent, evidence-based, understanding of the direct and indirect economic impact/contribution of the self-catering sector in Scotland; and sssesses the full-time equivalent jobs supported by the sector.

The full report can be downloaded here:

Contact: Fiona Campbell, CEO

Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC)

Phone tel: 07958 771 106

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ASSC contact details…

Contact: Fiona Campbell
Phone: 07958771106