The majestic scenery was millions of years in the making, giving the Isle of Skye its dramatic mountains, atmospheric glens and the picturesque pools that tourists drive miles to see.

Now up-to-date technology using the ‘internet of things’ and modelled on some of the world’s leading destinations is set to help ease the pressure that comes from being one of Scotland’s tourism hotspots.

Having laboured under the weight of too many campervans, cars and visitors, islanders have unveiled their latest weapon in the fight to keep roads moving and the inner Hebridean island’s car parks a little less congested.

Read more: How Edinburgh became a world leader in artificial intelligence

Using sensors located at key sites across the island to track movements of people and vehicles, the MySkyeTime app – inspired by similar technology in use in Barcelona, Amsterdam and Yellowstone Park - will provide live updates to alert visitors as to when best to visit popular places.

The real time app, launched by tourism business group SkyeConnect, will use a traffic light system – with ‘green for go’ to give tourists a heads up when car parks at sites including the Old Man of Storr, the Fairy Pools and Quinaig are less busy, red to show they are to be avoided and suggestions for quieter times to visit.


It’s hoped the new technology will help bring to an end to scenes of gridlocked vans and cars clogging narrow roads leading to the Skye’s most popular destinations – in some cases preventing even emergency vehicles from getting through.

The app is part of a number of new developments on Skye designed to ease pressure on the inner Hebridean island and to protect its precious landscape, including new footpaths, improved car parks and toilet blocks.

Visitor numbers to Skye had reached crisis point before the pandemic, with more than 500,000 tourists a year swamping the island, many on ‘selfie hunts’ and whistle stop tours of its most picturesque sites.

While that led to calls for tourists to ‘slow down’ in order to savour the island’s attractions, locals had raised concerns over being unable to navigate single track roads for parked vehicles, litter and unhygienic disposal of toilet waste.

The MySkyeTime app is the result of two years of development and collaboration between locals, Edinburgh University and software developers, Cairn Consulting. It has been funded from HIE and the Scottish Government with additional support from project partners, The Highland Council and SGRPID (Scottish Government Rural Payments Department).

Funds raised from car park fees on the island are said to have helped cover some of the costs: income from car parking fees on Skye has rocketed in recent years, with six sites in Skye making up the ten highest-grossing car parks in Highland Council last year.

Read more: How Royal Botanic artists find beauty in the world of garden weeds

While from 2017 to 2022, parking fines across Skye rose from £6,420 to £128,580 – a jump of more than £120,000.

The first phase of the app uses traffic and people sensors at the Old Man of Storr, Quiraing and Coral Beach. Further locations are planned which it’s hoped will steer tourists to lesser visited sites on the island, however, issues with landowner wayleaves and the availability of SSE Engineers to provide power to the sites is said to have created delays.

As well as warning visitors of when to avoid certain spots, the app is also designed to steer them towards local sites, places to eat, and activities.

SkyeConnect project manager, Alistair Danter, said the app is a “work in progress” designed to evolve and develop over time.

“It uses the internet of things, where we join different bits of data and make them talk to each other.

“It uses live data from Transpot Scotland and sensors on footpaths and cars, all of which is put together with an algorithm.

“This is very much a Beta version of the app. It is frustrating that we have not been able to provide all the live real-time data that we had originally planned but we believe the existing functionality will be of benefit to visitors.

“We also hope businesses across Skye will see the benefit of becoming members and having a detailed listing on the MySkyeTime App.

“We know from Edinburgh University research that apps of this nature have had huge benefits in other popular tourism destinations such as Barcelona, Amsterdam and Yellowstone Park.”

Read more: Monarch of the Glen estate under threat from hydro scheme

He added that money from car parking fees is being used to help improve congestion on the island.

“Car parks are crucial in generating income to make investment for this sort of technology and to sustain the environment that the visitors can continue to enjoy.”

Recent improvements have been carried out to car parking facilities at key sites including Quiraing, the Old Man of Storr and Coral Beach, new toilets at popular locations while teams of rangers are now employed to ensure visitors are aware of litter, parking and other issues.

Work has also been carried out by the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland to upgrade and create new paths at Quiraing.

Mr Danter added: “Skye is open for business and our infrastructure has improved significantly in the past four or five years.

“We can certainly cope with the numbers of tourists coming our way.”