It took millions of years for the Island of Skye’s towering mountains, evocative glens, and lovely ponds to form, causing people to travel great distances to view them.
Now, modern technology utilizing the ‘internet of things and modeled after some of the world’s most popular tourist destinations is expected to help alleviate the pressure that comes with being one of Scotland’s most popular tourist destinations.
Having struggled under the burden of too many campervans, vehicles, and tourists, islanders have presented their latest weapon in the campaign to keep roads flowing and car parks on the inner Hebridean island less crowded.
Using sensors located at key sites across the island to track the movement of people and vehicles, the MySkyeTime app – inspired by similar technology in use in Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Yellowstone National Park – will provide real-time updates informing visitors of the optimal time to visit popular locations.
The real-time app, launched by tourism business group SkyeConnect, will use a traffic light system – with ‘green for go’ to alert tourists when car parks at attractions such as the Old Man of Storr, the Fairy Pools, and Quinaig are less crowded, red to indicate that they should be avoided, and suggestions for quieter times to visit.
It is hoped that the new technology will put an end to vans and cars clogging the narrow roads leading to Skye’s most popular destinations, in some cases preventing even emergency vehicles from passing.
The app is part of a series of new developments on Skye that are intended to alleviate pressure on the inner Hebridean island and protect its precious landscape, including new footpaths, improved parking lots, and restroom blocks.
Prior to the pandemic, the number of visitors to Skye had reached a crisis point, with over 500,000 tourists a year swarming the island, many on “selfie hunts” and whirlwind tours of its most picturesque sites.
Locals had raised concerns about being unable to navigate single-track roads due to parked vehicles, litter, and unhygienic disposal of toilet waste, which led to calls for tourists to “slow down” in order to enjoy the island’s attractions.
Two years of development and collaboration between locals, Edinburgh University, and software developers Cairn Consulting produced the MySkyeTime app. It has been supported via HIE and the Scottish Government with additional funding from project partners, The Highland Council and SGRPID (Scottish Government Rural Payments Department) (Scottish Government Rural Payments Department).
Six of the ten highest-grossing car parks in Highland Council are located on Skye.