Col­lab­o­ra­tion the key to suc­cess of Skye tourism

The Oban Times - - News - EL­LIE FORBES eforbes@oban­times.co.uk

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.

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