The Highland Council has published a paper suggesting UNESCO World Heritage Site status could be sought for Skye to attract funding for improvements
It’s widely believed that Skye has an overcrowding problem. Over the last few years, pressure has steadily increased on infrastructure and facilities thanks to a boom in the island’s popularity amongst tourists. In August, (false) rumours spread that Police Scotland were warning visitors away from the island.
The Great Outdoors investigated this issue and asked the question if Skye has too many tourists. Roger Smith’s column that day looked at the difficult balance between tourism and the environment.
Now, Highland Council has published a paper suggesting both short and long-term ways of easing pressure on hotspots, improving facilities, and upgrading services such as car parks.


The paper reports “a significant 3.3% rise in overall visitor types, with the headline figure for the category of visitor in 2014 of 1.3 million.” What about more recently? “Although comparable figures do not exist for the current period it is noteworthy that for the Highlands as a whole there was a 12.7% increase in tourist numbers between 2014 and 2016.”

The paper adds: “one of the key factors that has disadvantaged Skye relative to other islands, such as Orkney, Shetland and other maritime areas, is that key elements of its infrastructure… have been starved of funding over the years.”

Councillor Ronald MacDonald, co-writer of the paper, said a World Heritage Site listing for Skye was one possible long-term objective. A dual listing has been proposed for Skye to recognise both its landscape and wildlife and also its culture.
Councillor MacDonald said: “The World Heritage listing is intended to offer long-run sustainability to the land-based tourism industry, by attracting funding from a diverse range of sources and similarly the tall ships race, with various events built around it, is intended to kick-start the sleeping giant of marine tourism by way of offering imaginative and innovative funding solutions.”
Image © Alex Roddie