Skye tourists urged to book before visiting '˜full' island

Police have urged visitors to one of Scotland's best known islands to use 'common sense' and book their accommodation in advance unless they want to 'spend a night in their car.'

Businesses on Skye say more needs to be done to help the island cope with visitor numbers.
Businesses on Skye say more needs to be done to help the island cope with visitor numbers.

With its picturesque scenery, Skye has long been a popular destinations for tourists from home and abroad.

But now business owners on the island are warning it is being overwhelmed, particularly during the peak summer months.

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Now, Police Scotland said people who intend to stay on the island during their holiday should book to avoid disappointment.

Sergeant Bruce Crawford, part of the Portree community policing team, said it was not the force’s job to try and find hotels for stranded visitors.

He said: “The summer months are an incredibly busy period on Skye and this is obviously good for business but it can create problems, especially with accommodation often at a premium.

“I would never advise people against visiting our beautiful island but I would ask people to use common sense before travelling without booking accommodation in advance if they intend to stay overnight.”

He added: “People regularly arrive at the station with nowhere to stay asking for advice and it is simply not possible for Police to phone round hotels and B&Bs to try and find them accommodation.

“Like everyone else we want visitors to have the best experience possible but I would encourage people, who travel from around the world to see Skye, to plan ahead unless they want to spend a night in their car.”

It comes as a BBC report claimed that Police Scotland has advised visitors not to come to Skye for an overnight stay unless they have a reservation.

However, the force said it had never issued any such advice, with criticism aimed the initial report online.

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Paul Wood, managing director of the West Highland Free Press, wrote on Twitter: “This kind of sensationalism will do the island no favours at all. Skye does not have too many tourists.

“People visiting #Skye is a good thing, and as we’ve reported ad nauseam, it’s under-invested infrastructure at the root of current problems.”

The debate over how to accommodate Skye’s visitors has intensified in recent weeks.

Roger Booth, who owns a food van at the Quiraing, one of the island’s most popular locations, has suggested a so-called tourist tax of £1 per person would bolster the Skye economy and allow for infrastructural improvements.

However, any such levy would require a change in the law to become enforceable. The idea has been dismissed by the Federation of Small Businesses, which said “you don’t tax your customers.”

Shirley Spears, the founder of the award-winning restaurant, The Three Chimneys, said central government should step in to provide financial help.

She said: “I believe there should be a special fund to help bring the infrastructure into line with expectation of our many visitors from many countries around the world.”