Scottish island bagging passport idea floated

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Isle of HarrisImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Scotland has 93 inhabited islands, according to the 2011 census

"Bagging" Scottish islands has been suggested as a new tourism initiative.

Highland and Islands Transport Partnership (Hitrans) is examining the merits of the Scottish Islands Passport scheme.

Tourists would get a guide to the islands and earn a stamp for each one they visit.

According to the 2011 census, there were 93 inhabited islands in Scotland and Hitrans said almost all can be reached by ferry or plane.

The organisation, whose members include Argyll and Bute, Highland, Orkney and Western Isles councillors and has advisers from Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Council for Development and Industry, hopes to emulate the success of Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way.

It is the world's longest defined coastal touring route, and has a passport scheme.

'Encourage more visitors'

The popularity of Scotland's West Highland Way, Munro Bagging and North Coast 500 have also inspired the Hitrans project.

The organisation has asked its members for views on the proposal.

A Hitrans spokesman said: "The aim of the initiative would be to encourage more people to visit our islands.

"The proposal could be progressed in many different ways and Hitrans are keen to work with partners to develop the concept successfully."

Scottish tourist trails

Image source, HIE
Image caption,
The North Coast 500 involves a 500 mile route through the Highlands

Scotland already has several sight-seeing routes, including:

  • Snow Roads Scenic Route, which runs from Blairgowrie to Grantown on Spey via Braemar and Tomintoul
  • North Coast 500, also known as the NC500. It stretches for more than 500 miles (804km) and features roads in the Black Isle, Caithness, Sutherland and Wester Ross
  • West Highland Way, a 96 mile (154km) walking route from Milngavie to Fort William
  • Speyside Way, another walking route that runs from Buckie to Aviemore. It involves a distance of about 65 miles (104km). There is also a 15-mile (24km) spur to Tomintoul

Western Isles local authority Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said the imitative would need to be coupled with improved transport.

A spokesman said: "The comhairle is keen to continue encouraging and developing tourism in the islands through working with partners in Hitrans and the tourism industry.

"Any initiative which helps to support this would be welcome.

"Any increase in tourism would require appropriate developments in transport - particularly in ferry capacity and infrastructure throughout the islands."

First of its kind

Hitrans' idea is the latest new tourism route to be suggested for Scotland.

Sites on Scotland's west coast deemed good for spotting whales and dolphins are being sought for a planned new Hebridean Whale Trail.

About 25 sites are needed for the route being developed in a project led by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust.

The Mull-based charity said the trail would be the first of its kind in the UK.

The network of sites would range from the Clyde in the south, to Cape Wrath in the north and west to St Kilda.

As well as sight-seeing opportunities, the aim is also to showcase the history of people's relationships with whales in the region.

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