Tourism meetings planned in a bid to ease pressure on Skye
HELP for Skye businesses and residents to cope with growing tourism pressures is on the cards.
Next month sees the first of a series of meetings taking place in a bid to gather expertise from across Scotland, as the first step in a process to make it easier for people on the island to cope with growing numbers of visitors.
The meeting will be held in Portree on Friday June 9.
It is hoped that the second of the series of discussions, which will review the summer’s activities, will take place in September.
MSP Kate Forbes said that, as the summer heats up, hotels are already fully booked for the season ahead.
She explained: ‘This year is going to be just as busy, if not busier, than last year. The question for all of us is how we capitalise on the surge in tourism, rather than collapse under the pressures on infrastructure and amenities.
‘While Skye is particularly popular, other parts of the Highlands are also facing challenges too.’
The Skye MSP is set to host the first of two discussions, one before and one after the busiest months of the year.
Ms Forbes has invited representatives from other areas of Scotland who have faced a surge in tourism to the meeting.
She said: ‘These representatives will outline how they organised themselves to find solutions to the local challenges and capitalise on the enormous boost to the local economy.
‘The purpose of these two meetings is to see if there are things we can learn from other places in Scotland and so turn tourism into an opportunity, rather than a challenge.
‘Of course, there is a lot to do and no discussion will prove to be the magic wand to solve all the problems. But if other places can do it, then so can we.’ Last month the Lochaber
Times reported Minginish Community Hall’s ambitous plans to buy and improve the car park at the Fairy Pools.
Richard Powell from the Minginish Community Hall said more than 108,000 people visited the Fairy Pools last year, but, with just 35 spaces, problems arose.
He told the Lochaber Times: ‘We end up with 100 or more cars parked along the verges and in passing places.’
He said that the popular tourist spot has been busy since February. The volume of visitors is creating significant problems for residents who stay in the nearby village, Glen Brittle.
Mr Powell predicted a bumper year for tourism in Skye, stating many B&Bs and guest houses are already fully booked for the season.
In what is believed to be a record-breaking year for tourism on Skye, some residents have said there has been little respite from visitors during the winter months.
Earlier this year SkyeConnect, a new destination management group, was launched on Skye. The group hopes to play a key role in the future of the island’s tourism industry.
At its launch, chairwoman Shirley Spears, who owns The Three Chimneys restaurant on the island, said: ‘ We look forward to working with the Skye community and its partners to create a robust and dynamic organisation for the island.’