BUSINESS leaders have insisted they are “optimistic” about a fresh direction set out by First Minister John Swinney and his deputy Kate Forbes.

Swinney pledged in a speech in Glasgow last week the Scottish Government will produce “more concrete actions and fewer strategy documents” as he vowed to “go all out” to boost economic growth.

He added he would “bluntly” demand more action from his ministers, stressing they “must offer certainty to those prepared to make commitments to our economy”.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Show, Fiona Campbell – the CEO of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers – insisted “the trust has gone” between the SNP Government and businesses but she was “absolutely encouraged” by the new leadership.

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She said: “They [Forbes and Swinney] both have common sense, they’ve got business acumen, they know what the problems are.

“It is now an opportunity to really reset that relationship because right now the trust has gone with business.”

Campbell added she felt the fact Swinney and Forbes both represented areas well outside the central belt would make “a huge difference”.

Edinburgh hospitality business owner Graeme Sutherland added he was “excited” by the new heads of Government but stressed they needed to reach out to the industry.

“For the last three or four years, we [hospitality] have not been heard as an industry. I now feel we are in a position where we can start engaging, we can start discussing, and we can start planning long-term, generational change.”

Asked if his optimism was genuine, he replied: “It’s genuine. I really am excited, but we need the engagement. We need them to reach out to us.”

The National: Kate Forbes

However, Campbell did highlight there was a lot of “resentment” in the industry for the Scottish Government as he criticised a lack of action on business rates and decreasing employment in the sector.

Campbell was highly critical of new short-term lets regulations. Under regulations which came into force last October anyone who operates short-term lets has to have a licence or face a ban and fine of up to £2500.

The changes were brought in to help tackle problems with housing demand but critics say it is a threat to the tourism sector.

Campbell said she was positive about an “immediate change in tone” from the Government when she received a quick reply from Forbes after asking her for a meeting when she became Deputy First Minister.

But Campbell added she would ask Forbes to review short-term let regulations.

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Asked for two things Swinney and Forbes could do, she said: “Remove the conflation between planning and licensing.

“They [the Government] added a planning consideration within short-term lets licensing. Those two things are impossible to run concurrently.”

She added: “Kate Forbes, who I have got an awful lot of respect for, she understands what this is doing to business. It is irreversibly damaging tourism in Scotland.”

Sutherland added he wanted to see legislation that enables growth in the hospitality sector and urged the Scottish Government to engage with Westminster, as he admitted the sector had been hit hard by Brexit.