Online holiday accommodation giant AirBnB has been urged to issue “responsible tourism” advice for guests visiting the Highlands – particularly for drivers tackling narrow roads such as on the NC500 route.
Skye, Wester Ross and Lochaber MSP Kate Forbes wants to see guests get guidance on driving on single track roads, disposing of litter and respecting the natural environment.
She believes it could be one of several measures to encourage responsible and sustainable tourism in rural areas in her constituency.
Among those areas are well known hotspots like the Morar Sands near Mallaig, the Fairy Pools on Skye, and Chanonry Point on the Black Isle.
— highlands2hammocks (@highlands2hamm) July 7, 2018
The call comes amid another booming year for Highland tourism with locals more and more embracing the economic and social opportunities offered by home-sharing through AirBnB.
Miss Forbes, who was recently appointed to the cabinet as minister for public finance and the digital economy, said: “Most visitors to the Highlands are respectful, but it goes without saying that there has also been an increase in litter, confused driving on single track roads and certain types of unhelpful behaviour.
“It is clear to me that local people get frustrated with the kind of tourism that ignores the fact that real people live, work and raise families in the Highlands all year round.”
She added: “I am calling on AirBnB to use their platform to distribute clear guidelines to all guests about what is, and isn’t, appropriate in rural areas like the Highlands.”
That is because “AirBnB boast hundreds, if not thousands, of hosts across the Highlands” making the information readily available.
— Johanna Mackenzie (@hannajomac) July 6, 2018
She said: “In particular, there is a need to make it crystal clear that rural communities are very hospitable, but the environment and the people deserve respect.”
And it appears Miss Forbes may be pushing at an open door with AirBnB, with a spokeswoman saying: “Airbnb is built on the principles of making communities stronger and helping guests live like locals.
“It’s why we are already preparing various guides for visitors to Scotland, having presented the idea to policymakers earlier this year, and following the production of similar guides in cities across the world.”
The Highlands is home to around half the top 10 Scottish AirBnB destinations with more than 2,200 active hosts offering accommodation to more than 148,000 visitors in 2017.
Inverness was ranked third in Scotland, followed by Skye and Oban, with Kyle of Lochalsh in ninth place and Broadford on Skye in 10th.