Fairy Pools, Skye: Why paving a bit of paradise is sometimes the right thing to do – Scotsman comment

The 1960s folk singer Joni Mitchell may not be pleased that they have “paved paradise and put up a parking lot” (along with some off-grid toilets) at the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye, but it was the best thing to do.

The Fairy Pools, Glenbrittle, Skye, have become one of the island's most popular tourist draws with visitor numbers soaring in recent years (Picture: Lauri Sten/Flickr/CC)
The Fairy Pools, Glenbrittle, Skye, have become one of the island's most popular tourist draws with visitor numbers soaring in recent years (Picture: Lauri Sten/Flickr/CC)

For years, this beautiful place has suffered from the ugly problems of traffic congestion, inconsiderately parked cars, litter and waste because of the sheer numbers of people who wanted to go there, combined with a lack of facilities.

So the opening of a new 140-space car park and toilet block should go a long way to minimising the impact that so many people in one place can have on the environment.

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It was opened by Kate Forbes, the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch and also Scotland’s Finance Secretary, who said: “Investing in visitor management and supporting our rural communities is a crucial part of sustainable tourism growth.”

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The Covid pandemic has highlighted just how important tourism is to Scotland’s economy and how many people the sector employs. So there are good economic reasons to find practical but also sympathetic ways to effectively manage visitor numbers.

And it’s much preferable to the alternative of discouraging people from coming, particularly given we will need to harness every possible strength that Scotland possesses if we are to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic.

However, it's worthwhile remembering why most tourists come to Scotland: its natural beauty, historic castles and the like. So if someone suggests adding “a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swingin' hot spot” to the car park, we and many others may well rally to Mitchell’s cause.

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