BY LISA FALCONER
A new petition calling for improved infrastructure on Skye to meet rocketing tourist numbers has attracted hundreds of signatures.
The ‘Bring Isle of Skye into 21st Century Tourism’ petition on the 38 Degrees website was created by B&B operator Steve Carter from Upper Milovaig.
It states: “The Isle of Skye is currently seeing a massive increase in tourist visitor numbers. Meanwhile the experience of these visitors is severely hampered by a lack of investment in road maintenance, car parking spaces for main attractions and very poor signage. I would like to see central and local government combine to produce extra money to give the hundreds of thousands of visitors flocking to the island an improved experience.
“The Isle of Skye, whilst becoming ever more popular with visitors, is currently under-resourced to meet growing demand to visit the island. This must be addressed to make sure a real opportunity for Scotland’s future is met.”
Speaking to the Free Press, Mr Carter said: “Being involved in tourism I am very conscious of the experience of guests. The state of the roads is a talking point, as is the lack of signage. Why isn’t there money to fix these things when there is plenty money coming into the island?
“The petition has received a lot more support than I expected. There seem to be two views — some support it and some folk don’t want to see, in their words, the island become a 21st-century theme park.”
Mr Carter said that he hoped to get enough signatures to pass the petition on to the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Fiona Hyslop, and that there could be a coordinated effort to address the issues.
He added that tourism signage was so poor he and his wife, Julie, have made their own signs for local attractions such as Neist Point (pictured below) and estimate 500 to 1,000 cars are currently passing every day looking for the vantage point.
“I want to start a discussion and for people to think about what they want the island to be. Highland Council and the Scottish Government must coordinate efforts, although with the council based in Inverness I do think we are an after-thought over here,” he said.
To underline the lack of infrastructure, as we went to press yesterday (Wednesday) reports came in from Staffin that a group of 25 campers down at the slipway were “sh*tting all over the place” because there were no local toilets. Our source said concerned residents were on their way to clean up the mess once the campers had departed.
As of this morning (Thursday) the petition has been signed by 458 people. Here is a selection of the comments.
Bruce P: “As a resident of Skye for 13 years I’m dismayed at how few improvements have been made, which are already woefully inadequate. Several locations on maps and sat nav do not point to the correct places, leading to additional problems. Despite these being pointed out to the relevant companies, nothing is ever done. Damaged tyres are a regular issue. It’s time for second-most popular tourist destination in Scotland to get the infrastructure it deserves.”
Louise P: “The car parking and public toilets are barely sufficient for Skye residents (I’m one), and the infrastructure just doesn’t cope during the visitor season”.
Dorothy M: “I hope that we will be a one-day wonder and visitor numbers will dwindle to a level we can cope with. While I live in hope I don’t see the trend of increased numbers now stopping. The Highland Council should be forced to create a taskforce to review the whole of Skye, not just the most popular spots at the moment. I can’t even take my grandsons for a walk along the road. No one slows down. All single-track roads should be reduced to 30-40 miles an hour which is plenty fast enough.”
Lynn E: “Skye needs its beauty spots protected from pollution and overcrowding. Too many treat it as a theme park!”
John CR D: “Could not agree more. A no brainer. Great place to start would be the reopening of our airport at Ashaig.”
Russell S: “Investment and developement in a sensitive, sustainable and future-proof infrastructure is vital to the economic future of the island. Environmental degradation is already an issue and without structured protection will result in irreversible damage. Tourism is key to the future economic wellbeing of Scotland and vital to the western Highlands and Islands. Skye is currently the most visited place in Scotland — and as a world-class destination it needs investment and conservation policies.”
Shona M: “I would add, with the increasing numbers, some of our most beautiful locations i.e. Neist Point, Quiraing, Faerie Pools (sic) and Faerie Glen there is an increasing number of accidents, injuries, vandalism, even fights. I feel we should be looking at employing wardens. We simply cannot cope. We need toilets and parking, roads repaired — they are not fit for tour buses, caravans and (especially) not unimogs. Action needs to be taken and fast!”