Collaboration the key to success of Skye tourism
THE DRIVING forces behind a boom in tourism in Argyll and Bute and Inverness and Loch Ness will impart their wisdom when they address a meeting in Skye.
The gathering, at the Aros Centre in Portree on Friday June 9, is the first of a series of meetings to identify and find solutions to the pressures on the Skye caused by increases in tourism on the island.
The meetings have been organised by constituency MSP Kate Forbes.
Carron Tobin, development manager for Argyll and The Isles Tourism Co- operative, will explain how visitor pressures were addressed in and around Loch Lomond, while Graeme Ambrose, chief executive of VisitInvernessLochNess (VILN), will touch on the need for collaboration.
Kate Forbes MSP said across Scotland businesses, community groups and public or third sector bodies work together to make the most of tourism.
She commented: ‘ So here in Skye, we may not have to invent the wheel but instead see what is happening elsewhere – in Argyll and Bute for example – and adopt good ideas.
‘Like many, I find it easy to list the many challenges facing businesses and residents on Skye but a lot more difficult to find sustainable solutions.’
In another bid to alleviate tourism pressure, a meeting was held in Portree on May 19 between Highland councillors, Ms Forbes and tourism group Skye Connect. Discussions took place on various potential improvements to tourism infrastructure and how individuals could work together.
Ms Forbes commented: ‘ We clearly have a mountain of work to do and we must work together to accomplish that. I know Skye Connect has great ideas and has already done a lot behind the scenes.
‘We discussed the importance of bringing people together and the priorities for Skye.’
Chairwoman of the destination group, Shirley Spear, said there is ‘no easy fix or magic solution’ to the issues faced by the community
Ms Spear added: ‘We are not the only destination having to deal with the extra increase in the number of visitors coming to Scotland.
‘Many influences have affected this upsurge, including improved air links with the country’s main airports and the strength of the pound.
‘Scotland lacks the infrastructure it needs to cope with the number of visitors coming to enjoy our beautiful countryside and other areas have been quicker to pick up on the work required to be more organised to deal with the needs of the public.
‘ We have a lot to catch-up with here in Skye and a great deal of work needs to be done, which requires funding. SkyeConnect should become the vehicle through which some of this national funding can be accessed. With a more professional structure and approach, we are working towards building future opportunities.’
Councillor John Gordon said: ‘ We all recognise the need for a collaborative approach in addressing the issues we face on Skye as a result of the growing tourism industry. The need for a robust tourism strategy and investment in infrastructure is vital to the ongoing success of Skye.’
Councillors and Skye Connect hope to meet again with Ms Forbes in August.
Group meeting with Kate Forbes on Skye.