The Isle of Skye is already famous for having some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery, seafood and whisky. Now it is getting its own cartoon character to allay fears it is becoming overcrowded.
Donald from Skye, who has ginger hair, wears a kilt and drives a curmudgeonly talking tractor, will act as a “friendly face for the island” and answer questions from its growing numbers of tourists.
The character has been created by local businessman Calum MacDonald, partly to address concerns that the island’s infrastructure is struggling to cope with the influx of visitors every year.
The problems first surfaced at the end of last summer, with some local businesses suggesting that visitors should have to pay a tourist tax which could be invested in new infrastructure. Improvements to visitor facilities such as car parks are already under way at popular sites such as the Fairy Pools, Neist Point, Quiraing and the Storr in respon se to the issues.
It is hoped that Donald and his tractor sidekick Fergie will help tourists decide where to stay and what to do before they arrive, as well as giving tip on safe driving and where is best to park.
As well as answering common questions from visitors through a dedicated website, the characters will also star in a series of short animated films giving tips on tours and where to eat and drink.
Mr MacDonald, 47, said he first came up with the idea for a Skye cartoon character a year ago after becoming infuriated at suggestions that tourists should give the island a miss.
The US broadcaster CNN even included Skye on a list of 12 “destinations to avoid” during this summer, a decision that was criticised by local MSP Kate Forbes.
“I was very much of the view that it was complete nonsense, it wasn’t actually the truth at all,” Mr MacDonald said. “That’s why I created my character, to try and address the situation.
“Fair enough, Airbnb and Booking.com might well be full, but that certainly doesn’t mean the whole of Skye’s full. I was trying to think of a way to try and address this.”
Donald’s distinctive looks were inspired by a drawing done by Mr MacDonald’s eight-year-old niece Sadie of her family, which he said reminded him of The Simpsons. The businessman, who runs a wifi network on the island, said the character was greeted enthusiastically by Skye residents during a private screening of his debut short film last week.
“I was getting a right good vibe off it – especially among all the Donalds that were in the audience, of which there were three,” he said. “These guys were super excited.”