Islanders launch ‘community-first alternative to AirBnB’

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Isle Develop CIC, the social enterprise behind the popular isle20.com shopping site in the Scottish islands, has launched their latest project – isleHoliday.com, a community-focused holiday lettings website.

The project aims to ensure that more of the revenue generated by tourism in the islands stays in island communities.

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

Rhoda Meek, founder of Isle Develop CIC said: ‘The housing problems caused by the short-term letting market in the islands are well documented. It will take time to change that situation and involve action at a local and national Government level.

‘But, in the meantime, the letting market exists. 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.’

The 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.

Rhoda Meek, founder of Isle Develop CIC.

Rhoda continued: ‘When you book your holiday house through isleHoliday, 100 per cent of the profit will go back into our island communities.

‘At Isle Develop, all of our directors and staff are islanders – 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.’