The keynote speakers have been announced for the Skye tourism meeting on Friday 9 June at the Aros Centre in Portree.

The meeting will be the first in a series organised by constituency MSP Kate Forbes to identify and find solutions to the pressures caused by increases in tourism on the island.  

Two of the driving forces behind a boom in tourism in Argyll and Bute and Inverness and Loch Ness will share their collective wisdom as they address next month’s discussion on Skye.

Carron Tobin, development manager for Argyll & The Isles Tourism Cooperative, will explain how visitor pressures were addressed in and around Loch Lomond, whilst Graeme Ambrose, chief executive of VisitInvernessLochNess (VILN), will touch on the need for collaboration locally. 

Both of the guest speakers represent organisations that were commended by Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, whom Ms Forbes met with to discuss Skye tourism earlier this year.

 Carron Tobin of AITC said: “We have adopted a model which has worked for Argyll and we are keen to share our experiences. 

“Our model is a one member one vote approach irrespective of business size - and this has been fundamental in us getting a sense of 'team Argyll' and a desire to grow the overall cake so individual slices grow too.  

“Collaboration is at the heart of it but also collaborative leadership – and establishing a shared vision and agreed priorities through Tourism Argyll & The Isles 2020. 

“Our priorities over the next three years are adventure tourism, food & drink and events & festivals - plus digital capability and world host customer care.

“Prior to working on this I was a director at the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park where visitor management was a key part of our remit - dealing with many of the issues now faced on Skye where infrastructure is key. 

“I am keen to also share some of that experience as we pioneered some important work in addressing visitor pressures in an outstanding part of Scotland.

Graeme Ambrose of VILN added: “I am delighted to speak with businesses in Skye because here in the Highlands we firmly believe that we (the destinations) cannot afford to operate in isolation from the areas around us. 

“We are all to a lesser or greater extent dependent for success on each other and we must therefore collaborate where we can. 

“But for this to happen requires all destinations to have a structure in place locally which enables this 

“I think what Skye could learn from VILN is that collaboration is fundamental to success. 

“If we look back to when it all began on Loch Ness in 2006, the tourism product offer has changed hugely for the better over the intervening years.”  

Kate Forbes MSP said: “Across Scotland, there are exciting things happening as businesses, community groups and public or third sector bodies work together to make the most of tourism. 

“So, here in Skye, we may not have to invent the wheel, but instead see what is happening elsewhere – in Argyll and Bute for example – and adopt good ideas. 

“Like many, I find it easy to list the many challenges facing businesses and residents on Skye, but a lot more difficult to find sustainable solutions. 

“The growth in tourism is an excellent story, because it shows how attractive our natural assets are, how welcoming our businesses are and how much work has gone in to marketing Scotland. 

“We just need to make sure we all benefit.”