It’s an iconic feature on the Skye landscape and the backdrop to many a movie set.
Now, the Old Man of Storr looks set to play a starring role in the future of Skye tourism.
Members of the Skye and Raasay area committee this week gave the green light to an ambitious vision for the landmark.
The council believes the Storr could be a major tourist draw and revenue generator for the island. Money raised at the visitor attraction would go back into the site, benefiting locals and visitors alike.
The proposal includes plans for a retail module, digital destination guide, online shop and onsite staff.
All this would be supported by improved transport, parking and electric vehicle charging points.
The council believes this could be a flagship project in developing sustainable, environmentally-friendly tourist attractions.
Skye councillors heaped praise on the proposal, calling it “positive” and “heart-warming”.
One-stop digital destination
The Old Man of Storr is one of the most famous walks on the Isle of Skye.
The large pinnacle of rock stands high above the ancient landscape, attracting 200,000 visitors each year.
It’s also a popular destination for wedding venues and a favourite with filmmakers.
In recent years, Highland Council has invested more than £2m in tourism at Storr, including car parking, toilets, path improvement and habitat restoration. Now, this new vision looks to the future.
It aims to create a ‘one-stop digital destination’ through an online platform, digital shop window and a fully autonomous digital visitor guide.
The digital shop window would harness the surge in post-pandemic online shopping, allowing local crafters to showcase their art for buyers. Bookings and even parking could be planned in advance via an online portal.
At the same time, the project would include a modular retail unit and visitor destination staff and wardens on-site, generating local employment. It’s thought that having staff onsite would increase parking revenues by as much as 30%.
‘We have a world-class site on our hands’
Skye councillors praised the ambition of the report, which was complied for the council by consultants Glenmorven Associates.
Councillor John Finlayson said it was crucial that Skye councillors work with the community to take ownership of the project, and that they “put our money were our mouth is”.
He added that this sustainable, collaborative vision for Storr could lead the way in other tourism ventures across Skye and Highland.
Chairman John Gordon agreed, saying the council should feel confident in its commercial approach.
“This is probably one of the most iconic sites in the whole of Scotland and we have to be ambitious for sites like that,” he said.
“The world comes up our country lanes to experience what Skye has to offer. We’ve got world-class sites, but we need to have the world-class experiences as well.”
The councillors agreed to invest £57,000 of their place based funding into the project, with the remaining finance coming from council and other commercial partners.
By local democracy reporter Nicola Sinclair