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Mini Bite – Sustainable Skye, Tourism Awards, Events, Surveys and more…

November is the busiest time of the year for tourism industry events, surveys, awards ceremonies, and conferences, rounding off the year past and looking ahead to the one to come.

SkyeConnect has had a very busy month with our AGM and autumn conference, Sustainable Skye and other events.

According to our end of year survey results, the majority of tourism business on Skye saw increased visitor numbers and turnover during the 2023 season. Westbound traffic on the Skye Bridge also increased by 20% compared to 2021. However, despite increased visitor numbers, rising costs have hit the profitability of businesses. November is a quieter month for visitors, but it is always a very busy time for businesses with many staying open through the winter months and all now starting to work on plans for the 2024 season. It is also the busiest time of the year for industry events, surveys, awards ceremonies, and national, regional, and local conferences, rounding off the year and looking ahead to the new year. Skyeconnect has had a very busy month with our AGM and autumn conference, Sustainable Skye, as well as giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament on the proposed Visitor Levy, our end-of-year survey, interviews with local, regional, and national media about the issues affecting Skye’s tourism economy and preparing for the launch of various new initiatives. As ever, thank you for your support and engagement and please get in touch with us if there’s anything we can do to further support you.

Sustainable Skye Event

Our collaboration with Highland Community Waste Partnership on the Sustainable Skye event was a huge success. “Sustainable Skye – Smart Waste Solutions for your Business” brought together a collective of members, local organisations and businesses to showcase and stimulate discussion, debate and collaboration around tacking the sustainability and waste issues we face as a tourist destination and community. We saw a full house of attendees bring lots of positivity and enthusiasm for making a difference when it comes to innovative waste management and sustainable tourism.

Check out our highlights video and post event press release.

Also, check out this excellent BBC news article about the event and some of the businesses in the local area doing their part for sustainability.

Highlands and Island Thistle Awards 2023

The 2023 Highlands & Islands Thistle Awards (HITA) turned out to be a memorable evening, showcasing some of the region’s top talent and businesses with two of Skye’s own businesses taking home awards and others being recognised as finalists in the shortlists. Huge congratulations to Duisdale House, who received the “Best Hotel Experience” award, and Edinbane Lodge, who took home the “Best Eating Experience” award. Two very well deserved winners doing fantastic work! We are very lucky on Skye to have so many amazing hotels, bars, restaurants, B&Bs, Self-Catering businesses, attractions, activities, and organisations doing great work within the tourism and hospitality sectors, so it was great to see such a strong presence at the awards. You can see the full list of winners here: Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards Winners 2023.

Update on Skye Windfarm Position Paper

SkyeConnect have just published an updated version of our windfarm position paper. You can access the full document with appendix on our public documents page on the Skyeconnect website. We will continue to seek out the latest information and research on these issues to inform our position paper. Our position paper is intended to be a living document so we will continue to update it at timely intervals as relevant new data and information becomes available.

SkyeConnect Survey Reveals Business Costs in Tourism Sector are Hampering Profitability

The majority of tourism business on Skye saw increased visitor numbers and an increase in turnover during the 2023 season. Westbound traffic on the Skye Bridge saw an increase of 20% compared to 2021 with 815,617 vehicle movements. However, despite the increasing number of visitors, rising costs have hit the profitability of businesses with half of those surveyed reporting costs have increased by more than 20%.


These are just some of the key insights from the annual ‘End of season’ survey conducted by SkyeConnect. The full press release which includes a summary of the important key findings is available to read.

Scottish Tourism Alliance’s 2023 Conference Presentations Available Now

For those unable to attend the recent STA conference or for those keen to review some of the presentations given at the event, most of the presentation slides from the conference are now available here. Speaker bios can also be accessed by clicking on the names. To give you an idea what information is available, here’s a list of the presentation titles and speakers available via the link:

  1. A Perspective: The Economic & Policy Outlook for the UK & Scotland, Professor Mairi Spowage, Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute
  2. Tourism Data Insights: Future Travel Trends & Consumer Sentiment, David Edwards, Director of Scattered Clouds
  3. Tourism Data Insights: Future Travel Trends & Consumer Sentiment, Caroline Bremner, Head of Travel & Tourism Research at Euromonitor International
  4. Tourism Data Insights: Future Travel Trends & Consumer Sentiment, Jim Eccleston, Managing Partner at 56 Degree Insight
  5. Scotland Outlook 2030 Update & Next Steps, Marc Crothall MBE, Co-chair of the Tourism & Hospitality Industry Leadership Group
  6. Our Proud and Passionate People: Tourism Rising Stars and Hospitality Heroes, Kelly Johnstone, Chief Operations Officer at Springboard & Chair of The Tourism and Hospitality Skills Group
  7. Innovation on our Doorstep: Get Ready to Ride the Waves with the Lost Shore Surf Resort, Andy Hadden, Founder & Managing Director at Lost Shore Surf Resort
  8. The Art of Communication, Cathy MacDonald, Communication Coach & Consultant at The Art of Communication
  9. AI and Chat GPT: Embracing the Opportunity, Stephen Whitelaw, Digital Marketing Consultant and Social Media Evangelist
  10. Destinations of the Future, Nick Peel, Director of Estate Management and Operational Readiness at NEOM
STA & 56 Degree Insight Research Reveals Decreased Profitability from almost 50% Tourism Businesses in Scotland Despite Increased Demand

The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) has unveiled the findings of its latest industry survey. Collaborating with 56 Degree Insight, a leading research firm, the STA has captured the current landscape of Scotland’s tourism and hospitality sector via the ‘How’s Business?’ STA Autumn Industry Survey. The survey, conducted between October 6th and 20th, garnered insights from 218 tourism businesses across Scotland, including 124 self-catering establishments, 48 serviced accommodations, and 65 non-accommodation businesses. Complementing this data, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association’s survey of 340 pubs and restaurants offers parallel insights. The survey highlights a mixed bag of recovery and challenges. While the sector shows recovery signs in attracting overseas visitors, domestic market shrinkage and rising costs are impacting profitability. Business confidence remains tepid, with smaller and serviced accommodation businesses feeling particularly uncertain. Challenges for the upcoming year centre around the economic climate, particularly energy costs, with 81% citing this concern. For self-catering businesses, the implementation of the Short-term Lets Licensing Scheme is another significant hurdle. As the sector navigates these complex waters, the full report offers insights for stakeholders and policymakers.

Access the full results..

Isle Of Skye Business Breakfast – 28th November

Join Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Lochaber Chamber of Commerce for an inspiring morning of networking and innovation on 28th November at the Isle of Skye Candle Co. Visitor Centre between 9.00-10.30am. A member of HIE’s innovation team will give an overview of HIE’s innovation programme and the new product development programme. Lochaber Chamber of Commerce will share insights into their recent strategy review and how their proposed expansion plans to extend their geographical reach to Skye, Lochalsh, Wester Ross and Oban can help your business. For more information and to register for the event please follow the link.

Highland Tourism Conference 2023 – 28th November

Ticket sales are now live for this year’s Highland Tourism Conference. The Highland Tourism Conference returns to Inverness on Tuesday 28 November at the Kingsmills Hotel. The event begins at 10am (with registration, networking opportunities and refreshments from 9am) and the event will close at 3.30pm.

For full details of what’s on at the event and to book tickets please visit Highland Tourism Conference page in the Visit Scotland website.

Future. Destination. Brand. Digital Tourism Think Tank Meeting

SkyeConnect will be attending an exciting industry event on November 23rd and 24th. We hope to bring back new information and insights that will benefit our members. The DTTT Future. Destination. Brand. event is a convergence of digital innovation and marketing expertise in the travel industry which brings together thought leaders and experts who will discuss emerging trends, strategies, and technologies shaping the future of tourism marketing.

The first day focuses on emerging digital and content trends for 2024, with a special emphasis on how technology is revolutionising brand experiences. It also includes a segment on how sustainability is being integrated into digital strategies by DMOs.

The second day starts with a networking breakfast hosted by Google, followed by a series of in-depth sessions. These include discussions on effective video marketing, storytelling, promoting lesser-known destinations, understanding changes in consumer behavior due to economic factors, and practical tips on running cooperative marketing campaigns. There’s also a focus on global travel trends, omni-channel strategies, and leveraging AI for impactful marketing. As your representatives at this event, we’re committed to absorbing as much information as possible to bring back to our community and members. We understand the importance of staying ahead in the rapidly evolving digital landscape of tourism marketing. Our aim is to leverage these insights to enhance our strategies and provide our members with advice and support.

Your continued support and participation in SkyeConnect’s initiatives are what drive us to seek out these learning opportunities so we look forward to sharing our experience with you!

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More Updates

Mini Bite – SkyeConnect’s Future, Business Community Open Day, Driving on Single Track Roads and more…

Over the past six years, SkyeConnect has been a strong and active voice representing the tourism industry and community on Skye, but we are now facing significant challenges due to recent cuts in government funding. We would like to understand what you’d like to see from SkyeConnect going forward. In the coming weeks, we will be contacting members and the local community to discuss how SkyeConnect can further support your business while advancing our community goals.

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