WHFP Editorial 2.2.18: Now more than ever, Skye’s tourist industry needs help

The distinctive Quiraing in North Skye is a magnet for visitors

Editorial: Now more than ever, Skye’s tourist industry needs help

If there is a plus side to Skye topping an international list of places not to visit in 2018, it is that the island is in very good company.

As well as telling its tens of millions of viewers in 200 countries not to go to Skye, the American broadcaster CNN has advised them to avoid Venice, the Taj Mahal and Barcelona. Good luck with that!

Venice and Barcelona can look after themselves. Skye is a different matter. The island’s tourist industry may be struggling to keep up with recent demand, but it is nonetheless the backbone of a local economy which has only recently revived.

This bad publicity is the most serious result so far of last year’s tourism panic. CNN has misinformed the world that “the residents of beautiful Skye said enough was enough after complaints of noise, overcrowding and even visitors urinating in public”.

In fact, most residents of beautiful Skye welcome visitors. They have simply requested that more investment should be made in the island’s roads, parking facilities and other infrastructure by local and national authorities.

The few tourists who urinate outdoors do so because instead of providing extra public toilets, Highland Council has removed some which previously existed. The roads were permanently potholed before hundreds of thousands of visitors descended.

A lie can go around the world before the truth has got its boots on. CNN’s report has, as the restaurateur Shirley Spear of SkyeConnect says, unfairly tarnished the island’s image. It has presented Skye as “a place to avoid when visiting Scotland”.

Correcting such formidable misinformation will be an uphill struggle. The people of Skye are already doing their part, by voluntarily offering new facilities and by demonstrating their hospitality.

Highland Council and the Scottish Government must shoulder their part of the burden. Now more than ever, Skye needs their practical help with its essential tourist industry.