IT is the latest visitor trial that will combine the stamina of munro-bagging with the freedom of the North Coast 500.

A strenuous test of mettle has been launched that will pit visitors against Scotland’s 93 scattered islands.

After being handed a ‘passport’, travellers will earn stamps on arrival at each and every outcrop they visit.

The aim is to complete the island challenge and bring an economic fillip to those communities many of which are not used to mass tourism.

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Inspired by Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, which encourages visitors to complete the 2,500km route from Donegal to County Cork collecting 188 stamps en route, the Scottish passport plan hopes to emulate the success of a scheme that attracted 1.3 million visitors last year alone.

Writing in a report by regional transport body Hitrans, partnership manager Neil MacRae said the marketing possibilities around the concept were “endless”.

He wrote: “For example, the passport could be issued to everybody in Scotland to encourage them to visit as many of the islands as possible over their lifetime.”

According to the 2011 census, Scotland has 93 inhabited islands with a total population of 103,700, served primarily by ferry but also by air.

The largest is Lewis and Harris combined, while there are five with a population of just one.

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Many larger islands such as Jura, Islay and Arran in the Clyde, the Outer and Inner Hebrides and Orkney and Shetland are all accessible and are well served with regular ferry services.

However, many of the smaller islands will pose a logistical challenge for the intrepid traveller, not to mention inconvenience for the small band of locals.

For example, Isle of Ewe off the Wester Ross coast is home to just one family with children and is not accessible by public transport.

Another challenge would be the island of Danna near Tayvallich, Argyll which can only be reached by a tidal causeway, leaving the possibility of travellers being stranded when the tide comes in.

Other inhabited islands include ones in Loch Lomond, the River Tay and Loch Moidart which may problematic too.

But the scheme hopes to work in partnership with the different transport operators in the region and boost local economies while also encouraging more visitors to the smaller and less-accessible islands.

The popularity of Scotland’s West Highland Way, Munro bagging and North Coast 500 have also inspired the project and the organisation has asked its members for views on the proposal.

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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.”

VisitScotland’s Islands Visitor Survey shows that trips to Shetland, Orkney and the Outer Hebrides have seen a 22 per cent increase since 2012-2014, which has brought an extra £36.9m to local economies and the national tourist body has voiced support for the plan.

A spokesman said: “The Scottish islands passport idea is at a very early stage but we would be supportive of any initiative that brings more visitors to our islands, with a unique stamp to represent each individual island as a strong call to action.”

However the idea also comes amid concerns that a 10-fold increase in traffic to the islands is already causing severe problems for island communities.

It follows the introduction of a Scottish Government scheme to make island ferry fares more affordable.

The Road Equivalent Tariff was introduced to boost remote economies – and worked so well the number of cars on one route is up by more than 80 per cent.

Across the network, car traffic has increased by just over 25 per cent which is causing severe problems as islanders struggle to book ferries and increased traffic contends with many single track roads.

Western Isles council welcomed the new initiative but said that it would need to be coupled with improved ferry capacity to ease overcrowding on already over-stretched routes.

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A spokesman said: “Any increase in tourism would require appropriate developments in transport - particularly in ferry capacity and infrastructure throughout the islands.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We recognise the value of tourism to our island communities and welcome initiatives that encourage sustainable growth.

"We have noted the proposals for an islands passport by Hitrans and are happy to explore the viability of this with interested bodies.”