Fiona Hyslop set to visit Skye for tourism meeting
THE CABINET Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs has accepted an invitation from constituency MSP Kate Forbes to visit Skye.
It is hoped Fiona Hyslop will address a gathering of community representatives, local businesses and public bodies at the second of a series of meetings organised by Ms Forbes. A date has yet to be finalised. The meetings are part of an ongoing process, led by Ms Forbes, to identify and find solutions to the pressures on Skye caused by increased tourism on the island.
Last month, the first of these took place in Portree and gathered expertise from local businesses and residents in a bid to cope with growing numbers of visitors.
Ms Forbes said she is delighted Ms Hyslop will visit the island.
She said: ‘I am delighted Fiona Hyslop has accepted my invitation to come and visit Skye, which I firmly believe is the jewel in the crown of Highland tourism, as evidenced by the huge growth in visitor numbers.
‘In previous discussions, the Cabinet Secretary has recognised the pressures on the island’s infrastructure and the need to make the visitor experience excellent so that they return.
‘ We have been very successful in attracting people to the area, with marketing campaigns and fantastic natural scenery.
‘However, there’s never been a forward-thinking strategy that prepared for all the visitors so Skye desperately needs a strategy that manages the influx of tourists.’
The Skye MSP said the islands infrastructure is ‘creaking at the seams’, adding: ‘Ordinary residents who have to get to the shops or pick up children from school are facing traffic jams in the most remote areas of Skye because of the number of cars.
‘That’s even more dangerous if emergency vehicles can’t get past, then it can become a matter of extreme urgency.
‘It is also making a mess of the landscape, with a number of stories about unpleasant presents left behind by those who can’t find a bin or a toilet.’
Ms Forbes said a number of issues have ‘fallen through the cracks’, with no strategy allocating responsibility for improving infrastructure.
She added: ‘ Take toilets or roads for example, these are the responsibility of local authorities, and yet we’ve seen toilets being shut across Skye in the last few years.
‘Recently, we’ve seen plans to resolve parking at the Old Man of Storr make progress, with Staffin Community Trust taking the lead. They’ve made use of the Scottish Government’s Land Fund.
‘The Northern Lighthouse Board is also investing in Neist Point, another hugely popular area.
‘I welcome these efforts, but I firmly believe we need a robust plan and that’s why I have kicked off a series of meetings to bring everyone round the table and actually draft a plan that we can track progress against.’
Skye residents are facing traffic jams from tourists visiting the fairy pools.