ISLANDERS have launched their own answer to Airbnb in a social enterprise that aims to generate revenue that remains within local communities and help provide affordable housing. is a holiday lettings website set set up as a rival to Airbnb to ensure that the profits from tourism remains within the islands.

Tiree-based Rhoda Meek, founder of Isle Develop CIC has already come up with with – a digital lifeline to island businesses dependent on tourism.

The online directory, which got Scottish Islands Federation start-up funding, showcases some 600 small businesses across 26 Scottish islands, from artisan dog biscuits on Arran to craft vinegar brewed on Orkney.

Profits from the commission-based structure will be reinvested in small businesses, community and housing projects throughout the islands.

It comes as concerns have surfaced over the rapid proliferation of short-term letting through services like Airbnb which has meant that homes for local people and those looking to move to the area are slim on the ground.

Ms Meek said: “"The housing issue in the islands is a complex one - and can't be solved overnight. It will take time to change that situation and involve action at a local and national government level.

"The short term lettings market both brings people to the islands, and removes properties from the local market.

"This results in a lack of affordable housing and long term rentals. showed me that there is both an appetite to support the Scottish islands - because people feel a real affinity with them - and that there is a huge power in working together as island communities. "

As a social enterprise, all profits after running the business must by law be reinvested into the communities they serve. For the purposes of Isle Develop CIC, that community is the Scottish islands.

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Isle Develop CIC have supported fisherman Callum Williams, Kirsty Bennet and their sons after they opened a seafood shop on Tiree this summer

"IsleHoliday is an attempt to harness that to make sure that more of the money generated by our housing stock stays in the islands. Airbnb don't need that commission, but our island communities could make excellent use of it," said Ms Meek.

"Our goal is to use it to generate revenue which can be used to the benefit of our communities - particularly in relation to affordable housing and long term rental options for residents."

Ministers have been seeking to tackle the growth of rentals on platforms like Airbnb and popular tourist areas by giving local councils powers to set up licensing schemes and charge fees to cover their costs.

New laws tabled by the Scottish Government mean that properties used for short-term lets will need licences by 2024.

Ministers want to increase regulation of short-term rental properties in response to concerns raised by some communities about spiralling rents and claims of disruption.

IsleHoliday will list holiday lets from across the Scottish islands, allowing visitors to book and make payments, but that’s where the similarity with other platforms ends.

Ms Meek added: “When you book your holiday house through isleHoliday, 100% of the profit will go back into our island communities.

"We know our Bernerays from our Burras! By working together with accommodation providers and local organisations we can offer rich information about island life before visitors arrive; from driving on single track roads to public facilities, events and great local businesses to visit during their stay.

“Visitors will have a better experience if we correctly set their expectations. Our islands are not empty wildernesses waiting to be discovered. They are full of heritage and history, present and we hope, future. Those are gems well worth discovering.

“We want to put faces to places and start to change the narrative from destination first, to community first.”

The group are accepting property listings from any Scottish island, and there are already receiving Tiree - where the company is working in partnership with the local development trust - to Bernera in Lewis, and even Unst."

She said that the dream would be to have the capital to enter into co-ownership of properties - either existing or new.

But the plan at the momen is that all Isle Develop CIC surplus will go towards providing small grants to micro businesses to purchase pieces of equipment which will help them become more sustainable year round.

It will also help directly fund housing surveys, projects and campaigns relating to long term affordable island accommodation.

Ms Meek said they have already funded two small businesses to purchase crucial pieces of equipment.