Impact of tourism on the Isle of Skye to be assesed by academics

It is estimated around one in eight properties on the Isle of Skye, which is connected to the mainland via a road bridge, are let via Airbnb. Picture: Neil Hanna
It is estimated around one in eight properties on the Isle of Skye, which is connected to the mainland via a road bridge, are let via Airbnb. Picture: Neil Hanna
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A major new study is to assess the impact of tourism on Skye, which attracts more than 500,000 visitors a year.

The survey, to be carried out by researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), will address the challenges posed by a huge growth in visitor numbers.

The findings will help shape a tourism masterplan for the island for the next decade.

Visitors, residents and businesses are being urged to take part in the survey, which has been commissioned by SkyeConnect, the island’s official destination-management organisation.

Visitors are drawn to the island by its areas of natural beauty and to appreciate features such as the Cuillin Ridge and The Old Man of Storr, while the Fairy Pools alone attract more than 100,000 visitors a year.

Marina Martinolli, project manager at GCU’s Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism, said: “The island was traditionally viewed as a walking or outdoor activity destination but with the opening of the Skye bridge making the island more accessible, this has changed dramatically.

“Alongside Edinburgh, Skye is now Scotland’s most iconic visitor destination.

“A number of local residents have already been in touch to say they want to get involved.

“We hope anyone with an interest in the economy of Skye will assist our researchers in carrying out this important study.”

Researchers will provide a detailed breakdown of visitor spending behaviour, nationality, tourist activities and motivation to travel, while the study will also look at the impact of tourism on the local transport infrastructure.

The results will be showcased at a public event in early 2020.

It is estimated around one in eight properties on the island are let via Airbnb, while Skye has also become a popular destination for cruise ships between May and September.

Alistair Danter, project manager for SkyeConnect, said: “As a destination management organisation, we need to have a detailed understanding of visitors, their views, their behaviours and their impact on the whole of Skye - not just the tourism sector.

“The results will allow us to shape the strategy for tourism development on the island for the next decade.

“We are delighted to award the contract to the Moffat Centre for this vital piece of work.”