Kate Forbes MSP has said she is encouraged by the progress of plans for tourism on Skye, after a meeting with tourism group SkyeConnect and local councillors.
Speaking after a meeting in Portree on Monday 7 August with SkyeConnect and Highland Councillors, the constituency MSP added that it was encouraging that stakeholders involved in tourism were working together for the good of the island.
In June, SkyeConnect chair Shirley Spear was one of the guest speakers at the first of a series meetings organised by Kate Forbes MSP, which was the beginning of a process to identify and find solutions to the pressures on the island caused by increases in tourism.
Kate Forbes MSP said: “Skye is facing big challenges – and opportunities – right now, and I'm very thankful to the team behind SkyeConnect and our Highland Councillors for their work thus far.
“I share people’s frustrations over the summer months but the key is uniting as a group with a plan for the island.
“I was pleased to meet again with SkyeConnect and local Councillors, and hear about the progress we are making. I can assure everybody that we are working extremely hard to make progress so that there are significant changes for next summer.
“This work is running parallel to other initiatives, particularly those led by local groups like Staffin Community Trust, and I also have sought the help of Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Fiona Hyslop.
“If we can each do our bit and work together for a common purpose of relieving the pressures on Skye then we will be successful.”
The meeting was also attended by Skye’s local councillors.
Councillor John Gordon said: “We all acknowledge the need for capacity regarding infrastructure, and making the Island easily accessible to tourists and residents alike.
“The meeting with all Eilean A’ Cheo Councillors, Kate Forbes and SkyeConnect was a step forward in addressing the issues we all face.
“Skye is a success story and we need to build on that so that our economy continues to thrive, the infrastructure is in place and our beautiful scenery is protected.
Shirley Spear on behalf of SkyeConnect said: “SkyeConnect is very keen to work together with local councillors and MSP Kate Forbes on behalf of the people of Skye. We want to see significant changes for next year, and ensure that over the longer term Skye is as well prepared as possible to welcome visitors to the island.
“All of us see the need to ensure that Skye gets the investment it needs and we are committed to working with elected representatives and other community leaders to make that happen.
“We all accept that Skye is not the only place which is seeing rising numbers of tourists and there are parts of Skye which aren’t as busy. Tourism is a such an important industry for the island and its neighbouring areas, and we are making progress in ensuring that Skye truly is the jewel in the Highland crown.”
The group at the meeting yesterday agreed to meet again in August, with a plan of action for the autumn months so that the bulk of the work can begin in late autumn and over winter. They also agreed to engage with local communities and get out into the villages over the coming weeks.