Changes in licensing laws worry tourist shops
Jul 31, 2009
Changes to licensing laws could force many tourism shops to stop selling whisky, according to shop owners.
Some businesses have warned it could cost them up to £2,000 to comply with new rules and pay for mandatory training and licences.
They claim the crackdown on binge drinking is unfair on shops that only sell miniatures of whisky.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the ability to sell alcohol should not be seen as a "God-given right".
The new legislation is due to come into force at the start of September.
Bill Fraser, who stocks a small selection of malt whisky at his kilt-making centre in Inverness, said he faced a bill of £1,800 for a licence in addition to the cost of staff training.
"The fee that we will be charged will be £1,300 initially and £500 a year thereafter. We have 12,000 sq ft in this building. We take up 28 sq ft selling whisky which means it is not viable for us to carry on selling whisky."
Highland Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon said the rules were too inflexible, and could damage the whisky industry.
She said: "It is quite ironic that the first minister is marching with thousands of people in Kilmarnock to save the jobs at Diageo and yet his justice minister is bringing in an act of parliament that is actually prohibiting the sales of whisky.
"In the most remote and rural areas of Scotland, the sale of alcohol will be prohibited under the news rules and regulations."
Mr MacAskill defended the changes, insisting firm action was necessary to tackle Scotland's drink culture.
He said: "We are doing what we can as a government to promote the sensible use of alcohol. We are working with visitor attractions and distillery visitor centres, but ultimately people don't sell alcohol because they are doing so as a charitable foundation.
"They do so because they are making money out of it. People have to make a legitimate calculation as to whether they are making a financial return.
"It's not a God-given right to sell alcohol in this country. It's something that you are given and you have to use and act responsibly with."