Shirley Spear hit back at the international media yesterday (Tuesday January 23) after reports that the Isle of Skye was on a list entitled "12 places travellers might want to avoid in 2018.”
In a series of comments and responses on The Skye Times Facebook Page, Shirley said: "This is yet another sensationalised piece of "journalism" by CNN and also, on Fox News today, spreading like wildfire all over the world.
“Come on Skye! We need to pull together to counteract this type of publicity. We are much, much better than this description implies!”
Shirley Spear is one of the directors of Skye Connect, formerly Destination Skye and Lochalsh.
Shirley went on: “It is not fair to publicise Skye as the only place in the whole of the UK which is supposedly "overrun with tourists", when the numbers of visitors coming to Scotland as a whole has been enormous and many remote places have had to tackle the influx in different ways, as has Edinburgh city centre!”
On the claims about “visitors urinating in public” she said:”I have experienced this type of behaviour by desperate visitors for years. Nothing new. Had people walk into my house and use my private bathroom on the ground floor, obvious by things like family towels and tooth brushes.”
Responding to claims of Highland Council under-investment, she said: ”Highland Council is supporting Skye enormously and many commitments have been made.
“However, there is so little finance for local councils all-across Scotland and virtually no budget to deal with the work that is required. That's where the problems lie.
“There is no easy solution to this for any resident of Skye, nor any of the many businesses which provide enormous funding towards the local and national economy daily.”
She said they have discussed a possible ‘Island Deal’. “This might take a long time to come to fruition, however. There is no overnight solution to anything! Portree is about to benefit from improved Broadband from the Inverness City and Region Deal, I believe, but nothing else has been announced.”
Speaking on behalf of SkyeConnect the island's developing destination organisation and part of the Scottish Government's local Task Force working on the future of Skye and its Tourism Industry, she said that “visitors should be well-informed about touring in the Highlands and Islands, be sure to book accommodation ahead of their arrival in remote, rural places and if possible, think about where they will enjoy a meal and refreshments nearby.
“Make good use of local information from local residents and your accommodation providers. Understand about driving on our single-track roads and respect the natural beauty of our wild countryside.”
The problems on the Island’s single-track roads mirrored those of elsewhere. “Bigger vehicles of all kinds have changed everywhere, including delivery lorries, Log lorries, fish farm lorries and building suppliers for house sites. There are many changes in traffic flow which make single track driving more difficult.”