A Skye tourism organisation has come out fighting again criticism the island is struggling with visitors, stating: “We are open for business.”
The stark message was made to the P&J after social media allegations from what, they say, is a minority of island residents in connection to alleged abusive tourist behaviour, overflowing litter bins, choked roads, poor driving and parking, and filthy public toilets.
Tourism management body Skye Connect has moved to calm the social media war with a statement summing up the progress made in tackling the island’s problems.
They said: “Skye welcomes tourists. Skye wants tourism. Residents know that tourism comes at a price, but most are willing to put up with it, make no mistake.
“Everyone with an interest in a sustainable tourism industry for Skye and neighbouring areas is working very hard to improve the island’s infrastructure for the benefit of visitors and residents alike.
“The challenges facing Skye will not be fixed overnight but significant progress is being made.”
In 2017 the Scottish Government established the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) administered by VisitScotland to support projects that will alleviate some of the pressures at popular visitor destinations.
A Skye Connect spokesman said: “Skye has benefited so far from £1.25 million pounds of investment, a figure which does not include match-funding elements required for certain projects.
“A tourism task force was also set up in 2017 to help create a sustainable future for the industry on Skye.
“It set up the North Skye Iconic Sites Group and £1.17 million funding application to the Natural Cultural Heritage Fund for infrastructure, environmental protection and interpretation work at the Old Man of Storr, Quirang and Fairy Pools.
“Construction work has already started on the new carpark for the Old Man of Storr and funding has been agreed for the footpath upgrade at Storr.
“This spring, SkyeConnect commissioned the Moffat Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University to carry out a major survey of visitors and residents.
“This work is taking place throughout 2019 and the result, which will be announced in Spring 2020, will inform the tourism strategy for Skye for years to come.”
The spokesman added: “In addition to this work, Skye infrastructure is benefiting from the amazing work of the island’s community trusts.”
Chris Taylor, regional leadership director at VisitScotland, said: “Scotland is world-renowned for giving a warm welcome and we would always encourage visitors to act responsibly and respectfully during their trip.
“It’s critical that tourism infrastructure meets current and future demand and some of that is being addressed through Scottish Government investment.”
Resident Ray Lamont said: “The majority feel blessed to be sharing this beautiful island with so many, tourism is booming, folk are in jobs, many which are self employed and fulfilling dreams and ambitions, the future is looking bright.”