Firms plan to make South Queensferry a boom town despite the disruption from construction of the new Forth road bridge.
Among the initiatives proposed are street wardens to “meet and greet” visitors – especially passengers from the cruise liners which arrive off Hawes Pier – more parking places, and themed on-street markets.
Voting closes tomorrow in a ballot of nearly 200 businesses in the town on the idea of establishing a “business improvement district” (BID) where firms pay an annual levy to fund schemes to boost trade.
BID chairman Roddy Forfar said some ideas had already been given a test run, including the “meet and greet” initiative.
He said: “The cruise liners normally come in to Hawes Pier and the people are swept out of Queensferry. We thought maybe they would like to have a look round and get rid of their sea legs, so we went down and handed out some maps and leaflets.
“People were really happy to have something that allowed them to see where they were and what they could do. Lots of businesses said they were busier than normal on these days.”
Mr Forfar said several potential ways of increasing the amount of parking available were being looked at, including using land near Hawes Pier and opening up car parks belonging to bigger retailers.
He said: “On a sunny day, Queensferry just gets an influx of visitors and it’s difficult to accommodate everyone.”
He said creating more parking spaces was a “long-term” project.
Other ideas include a Christmas market where local businesses take stalls, a public website, visitor guides and marketing initiatives, as well a business mentoring programme, an awards scheme and networking opportunities.
Construction of the new £1.6 billion Forth Replacement Crossing will mean major disruption in the area until it opens in 2016.
Mr Forfar said: “One of the difficulties is making sure people still come to Queensferry – it could act as a bypass and keep people away.
“We will work closely with the new bridge company to minimise disruption, but we also want to harness any business opportunity for the local community.
“If there’s no BID, there’s no real voice to speak as a group to the developers – you’d be going as one small business and trying to make your voice heard. If you go as 200 businesses and say ‘this is what the community think’, you have much more negotiating power.”
He said one area where talks had already begun was on securing job opportunities on the bridge project for young people leaving the local high school.
BID project manager Diane Brown said: “Queensferry is a fantastic destination but highly under-marketed. The BID will have a board, a budget and a designated person working on behalf of the local businesses.”
The city council has helped the BID process through liaison officer Natalie Russell. The result of the ballot will be announced on Friday.
If it goes ahead, businesses will pay an annual levy of £240 to £1050, which together with a contribution from the council would give the BID more than £500,000 over five years.