Delegates attending major conferences in Edinburgh are being urged to head out of the city centre as part of a drive to ease pressure on the historic heart of the Scottish capital.
A new guide on how to “Live Like a Local” is advising them to seek out Leith Walk, the Shore, Stockbridge and Bruntsfield instead of the “well-trodden” streets of the Old Town.
The Edinburgh International Conference Centre, which attracts 300,000 visitors a year, cites the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse on its website as examples of “the long list of must-see attractions” in Edinburgh.
But its new guide, drawn from the personal suggestions of several members of staff, is suggesting that delegates instead seek out “the city’s best-kept secrets.”
The EICC, one of the biggest Edinburgh Festival Fringe venues, has published its guide months after an official report on tourism in the city called for “concerted action” to spread the “footprint” of the industry away from the under-pressure Old Town amid warnings of “an urgent need to increase visitor dispersal.”
Among t recommendations in the EICC guide are dining out at the Scran & Scallie in Stockbridge, Toast on the Shore in Leith, the Black Ivy in Bruntsfield and Bodega on Leith Walk.
Other suggestions include having a picnic in the Meadows, walking alongside the Union Canal, cycling from Leith to the Pentland Hills and climbing up Blackford Hill.
EICC chief executive Marshall Dallas said: “International delegates from around the world travel to the city to exchange ideas, engage in discussion and, we hope, create world changing ideas. However, we also know that when the conference closes our visitors want to share authentic and unique experiences in our beautiful city. With changes in visitor behaviour we increasingly see our delegates’ desire to support local business and experience Edinburgh in the same way as our local community.”
Paul Wakefield, head of marketing and partnerships at council-funded Marketing Edinburgh agency, said: “Visitors increasingly want to create their own itineraries and to use authentic recommendations from knowledgeable, local sources to create great experiences. We constantly look for innovative ways to engage visitors with our great city, providing them with authentic experiences, ideas and inspiration wherever possible.
“The EICC’s ‘Live Like a Local’ feature is another great way of ensuring visitors not only feel welcome, but that they’re well informed too, so they can make the most of their time here, and hopefully come back for more.”
A spokeswoman for the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, which commissioned the recent research, said: “Edinburgh’s core attraction for visitors is its history, heritage and architecture, combined with its vibrant cultural offer. These attributes extend far beyond the traditional visitor hotspots, offering the opportunity to extend the visitor footprint in the city and to the wider region.”