Major GCU study to examine impact of tourism on Skye

Thu, 21 Feb 2019 23:06:00 GMT

Visitors, residents and businesses in Skye are being encouraged to take part in a major new study on the economic impact of tourism on the island.

The survey, carried out by researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University, will address the concerns and challenges posed by a huge growth in visitor numbers.

The findings will help shape a tourism masterplan for the island for the next 10 years.

Skye attracts more than 500,000 tourists a year with stunning areas of natural beauty, such as The Fairy Pools, Cuillin Ridge and The Old Man of Storr, proving extremely popular with both domestic and international visitors.

Experts from GCU’s Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism will examine the impact the surge in numbers has had on the island’s employment and the wider economy.

Researchers will also provide the first detailed breakdown of visitor spending behaviour, nationality, tourist activities and motivation to travel.

Thousands of people will take part in the survey, which has been commissioned by SkyeConnect, the island's official destination-management organisation.

Residents, accommodation providers, activity operators, restauranteurs, shop owners, and outdoor activity providers, are amongst those who will take part into the study, which will also look at the impact on the local transport infrastructure.

Marina Martinolli, Research Project Manager at the Moffat Centre, said: “The island was traditionally viewed as a walking or outdoor activity destination but with the opening of the Skye bridge making the island more accessible, this has changed dramatically.

“Alongside Edinburgh, Skye is now Scotland’s most iconic visitor destination.

“A number of local residents have already been in touch to say they want to get involved.

“We hope anyone with an interest in the economy of Skye will assist our researchers in carrying out this important study.”

Researchers will quiz visitors at areas including Dunvegan Castle, Kyleakin, Uig, Armadale, Broadford and Portree town centre. The results will be showcased at a public event in early 2020.

Alistair Danter, project manager for SkyeConnect, said: “As a destination management organisation, we need to have a detailed understanding of visitors, their views, their behaviours and their impact on the whole of Skye – not just the tourism sector.

“The results will allow us to shape the strategy for tourism development on the island for the next decade. We are delighted to award the contract to the Moffat Centre for this vital piece of work.”

The Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism is the UK’s largest university-based consultancy for travel and tourism market research and holds the most comprehensive and up-to-date data on Scottish visitor attractions.