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Scottish Islands Passport app launched to help visitors explore from Unst to Arran

(L-R) Cheryl Chapman, Visit Scotland; Sarah Compton-Bishop, Scottish Islands Passport Project; Ivan McKee MSP. Picture credit Tracey Maree
(L-R) Cheryl Chapman, Visit Scotland; Sarah Compton-Bishop, Scottish Islands Passport Project; Ivan McKee MSP. Picture credit Tracey Maree

The Scottish Islands Passport – a guide to help you explore Scotland’s 72 inhabited islands – has been launched.

A free app and series of travelogues have been created, working with islanders from Unst to Arran.

This has helped to build up a database of over 700 experiences for island visitors to discover.

From Dutch bakeries in Lismore and giants’ graves in Fetlar, to golfing in South Uist and seal spotting in Wyre – the passport aims to showcase the richness and diversity of Scotland’s islands.

(L-R) Magnus Dixon, Northlink Ferries; Sarah Compton-Bishop, Scottish Islands Passport Project; Ivan McKee MSP; Ailsa Heal, Destination Orkney; Cheryl Chapman, Visit Scotland; Graeme Harrison, Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Picture Tracey Maree

Hoxa Tapestry Gallery in South Ronaldsay played host to the public launch of the Scottish Islands Passport this morning.

Working from their office on Jura, the project managers, Sarah Compton-Bishop and Kirsten Gow, created the app which includes an “island matchmaker” that uses your interests to suggest islands you might like to visit. This could include those you may never have considered before.

The app, mooted in 2018, also allows you to collect passport “stamps”, designed by islanders and telling the story of each island, for the places you visit and to add your own photos to a travel journal.

Islanders sharing stories

The latest version of the app includes recordings of islanders sharing stories of their island homes, as well as highlighting island charities visitors may like to support.

Hoxa Tapestry Gallery was chosen to host the public launch of the national project to celebrate the “Meet the Maker” theme of the first in the project’s travelogue series, which will be available in the summer.

These paper journals take visitors beyond the geographical grouping of islands to allow them to explore based on a variety of themes, with future versions focusing on built heritage, wildlife, and food and drink.

Travelogue owners can also collect stamps along the way using the brass rubbing plates hosted by communities, while recording their own thoughts and experiences on the island in the dedicated journal section.

Tourism Minister on hand

Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, Ivan McKee, helped launch the Passport. He said: “I am pleased to have been able to officially launch the Islands Passport today in South Ronaldsay, in what is a Programme for Government commitment, postponed due to the pandemic.

“Scotland is home to some of the most scenic, thriving island communities in the world and we want everyone to be able to experience them.

“The Islands Passport is a great way to gain general knowledge and key insights from those with experience of the islands and will help to plan your trip and experience the hidden gems of the Scottish islands, as well as the well-known spots.

“The passport will also support island economies through increased, and sustainably managed, tourism.”

The project, which spans over 400 miles and covers six local authority areas, was designed to promote sustainable tourism growth to benefit island communities.

Initial funding for the project resulted from a collaboration between LEADER, The Scottish Government, Hitrans and ZetTrans which allowed the project to develop pilots of both the digital and a paper version of the passport.

Amazing range

Sarah Compton-Bishop said: “As islanders ourselves, we know that there is an amazing range of knowledge and talent on our islands.

“The Scottish Islands Passport champions this by celebrating our islands as living, breathing communities, but also by working hard to engage with islanders so the project is something they feel a sense of ownership of.

“This has allowed us to work with a diverse range of exceptional islanders to get this project to the stage we are at today – from metal fabricators in Shetland to printers in the Western Isles to soap makers on Islay, and community groups across the board.

“They are all part of what makes this project what it is, and we are incredibly grateful for their support.”

The Scottish Islands passport app is available in Google Play and Apple App Store. More information can be found on the website.

The Meet the Makers travelogue will be available in island shops and from from this summer.

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