American news channel CNN has ruffled feathers by listing Skye as a location suffering from a ‘tourism backlash’
According to CNN, ‘tourism backlash has been in full effect over the last 12 months’. In their recent online feature entitled 12 destinations travelers might want to avoid in 2018, CNN put Skye at the top of the list, stating that ‘in 2017, the infrastructure of Scotland’s largest island creaked under the pressure’. The feature goes on to add that ‘police advised visitors to stay away unless they had already booked places to stay’.
But is this true?
This rumour began in August 2017 when a tweet from BBC Breakfast claimed that Police Scotland were warning tourists with no booked accommodation to stay away from the island. This claim was later debunked by Lochaber & Skye Police.
While there is no evidence that the police ever advised visitors to stay away from Skye, it is true that the island has suffered from a lack of investment in critical tourist infrastructure, leading to problems with overcrowding at key locations in the summer months. It’s estimated that the number of tourists visiting the island over the summer may exceed the permanent population by as much as 700 per cent.
Big tourist attractions such as the Storr, Quiraing, Neist Point, Fairy Glen and Fairy Pools are all located on single-track roads with inadequate parking. Mountain Rescue have had difficulty accessing some areas with their vehicles due to thoughtless parking on verges. Litter is becoming a problem too.
While Skye is facing challenges in how it copes with increasing tourist pressure, that certainly doesn’t mean you should strike it off your list of places to visit.
Skye is one of the most beautiful places in the British Isles, with a wealth of natural splendour – much of which is far from the tourist honeypots. You could visit at a different time of year (Skye isn’t at its best in July or August anyway). Book accommodation, and leave no trace if wild camping. Be prepared to walk a bit and find somewhere away from the crowds. Get to your destination early, and be thoughtful about where you park. Most importantly of all, invest in local business and services – if visitors don’t spend their money on Skye, the necessary future investment won’t come.
Image © Alex Roddie