Package tourists to jump festival queues
TICKETS for the most high-profile shows of Edinburgh's festivals will become even scarcer after organisers unveiled plans to sell packages to travel firms months in advance.
Prime seats for shows at Edinburgh's 12 festivals – including the Fringe and the International Festival – would be reserved by travel firms under plans to create package deals to attract new audiences.
Tour companies, promoters and corporate outfits are expected to be approached to help put together packages in a global drive to attract festival fans who have not been to Edinburgh before.
The hottest tickets are expected to be packaged with air or rail travel offers and accommodation deals at some of Edinburgh's most fashionable hotels.
It is understood prime seats would be allocated in advance in the same way they are for major sporting events such as Wimbledon and Six Nations Rugby matches, as well as leading theatre shows across the UK.
The project is being devised by Festivals Edinburgh, a new body created to jointly promote and market the capital's 12 main events.
The organisation is hoping to tap into the lucrative market already used by the Tattoo, which allocates thousands of tickets every year to travel companies.
The initial campaign this summer will target London and northern English cities, such as Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle. A string of campaigns is being planned for this year and next to capitalise on what has been dubbed the UK's growing "staycation" market – people who have ruled out an exotic summer holiday.
The aim is to attract audiences that currently flock to major festivals such as Glastonbury, highbrow events like the Glyndebourne Festival and overseas events such as the Salzburg Festival.
Martin Reynolds, the marketing manager for Festivals Edinburgh, said: "The Tattoo has excelled for years in working with the travel trade, but it doesn't really happen with the other festivals and it's something we're very keen to work on. We are hoping to run a few pilot projects this year before launching things properly for 2010."
Mr Reynolds said audiences in the United States, Canada and Germany were all to be targeted over the next few months.
Paul Godzik, Labour's culture spokesman on the city council, said: "
It may well be that tickets are harder to come by for some shows, but I do think it is the right thing to do. People who are interested in the tickets know when they go on sale and it may be that they will have to be better organised."
Peter Lomax, an Edinburgh resident who was first in the queue for Edinburgh International Book Festival tickets when they went on sale last year, turning up at 6:30am to secure a place to see Salman Rushdie and Sean Connery, said: "It would seem like you are giving preference to people coming in, rather than local people."
Martin Hunt, the veteran Edinburgh Fringe PR, said: "This sounds like a great idea, but I don't believe that you would have to package up the most attractive shows to make it work."
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