VisitScotland have run a poll to find out which Scottish islands people would most like to visit.
The poll, run by the national tourism organisation to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the novel Robinson Crusoe, thought to be based on the life of Scottish castaway Alexander Selkirk, asked 1227 respondents from across the country to select the island or islands they wanted to visit most.
The top three islands were the Isles of Skye, Arran and Harris, closely followed by the Orkney and Shetland Islands, as well as the Isle of Lewis.
The Isles of Mull and Islay were also very popular and Bute, Barra, Iona and Tiree and Colonsay also made the top ten Scottish islands to visit.
Organised through ScotPulse, the first online research panel just for Scotland, the poll informed respondents about the 300th anniversary of Robinson Crusoe and its Scottish connections before asking them which of Scotland’s islands they would most like to visit. Fieldwork took place in September and respondents were evenly distributed in age, gender and location.
Robinson Crusoe was written by Daniel Defoe and published in 1719. Often credited as marking the beginning of realistic fiction as a literary genre, it is a contender for the first English novel and is presented as an autobiography of the title character – a castaway who spends 28 years on a remote tropical desert island near Trinidad, encountering cannibals, captives, and mutineers, before ultimately being rescued.
It is widely considered to be inspired by the life of real-life castaway Alexander Selkirk who lived for four years on a Pacific island called “Más a Tierra”, now part of Chile, which was renamed Robinson Crusoe Island in 1966.
Selkirk was from Lower Largo in Fife and the town has a bronze statue and plaque in memory of him as well as a sign pointing to Robinson Crusoe Island.
The timing of the poll is particularly apt as Scotland prepares to celebrate the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, a year-long programme of events and activities which will shine a spotlight on these vital elements of our landscape.
Chris Taylor, VisitScotland regional leadership director, said: ‘As a country we are blessed with a vast number of fantastic islands, each with their own unique offering. The Shetland and Orkney Islands, Skye and the Outer Hebrides have all received coveted accolades this year, suggesting our islands are becoming an increasingly attractive proposition for visitors.
‘This latest poll further highlights the popularity of Scotland’s islands and I’m delighted to see such a range of islands from across the country voted for. At VisitScotland we have a marketing focus on sharing the tourism windfall in lesser known parts of the country outwith peak times to ensure that every part of the country enjoys the benefits it brings.’
Stuart Garrett, Serco’s managing director at NorthLink Ferries, added: ‘The Northern Isles have always been a popular destination for tourists but in recent years we have seen a great increase in interest and visitors so it’s no surprise that Orkney and Shetland are ranked as two of Scotland’s most celebrated islands.
‘Our passengers frequently comment on how unique a visit to the Northern Isles really is, with such a vast range of history, local culture, music, arts, food and drink, nature, scenery and activities available. We’re very proud that visitors begin their adventure to Shetland and Orkney with NorthLink Ferries and love to hear the stories of their trip upon their return.’
To learn more about Scotland’s islands, go to www.visitscotland.com/see-do/island-hopping/
For more information about Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, go to www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/marketing-toolkits/year-of-coasts-and-waters-2020