Edinburgh makes Olympian effort to cash in on Games

DETAILS of the biggest campaign yet to promote Edinburgh’s festivals have been unveiled to help them cash in on this year’s London Olympics.

At least 20 press trips are to be run next summer to bring overseas journalists to the city’s main cultural events, after extra funding was secured to help boost events such as the Fringe, the Tattoo and the Edinburgh International Festival.

Special receptions for foreign correspondents, magazine editors and cultural commentators will also be held in London in a bid to persuade them to cover Edinburgh’s arts extravaganzas.

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Festival packages guaranteeing prime seats for events in Scotland’s capital are to be sold through official 2012 tour operators, while campaigns promoting short breaks in Edinburgh in August will be running in cities such as Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle.

Advertising campaigns in easyJet and Ryanair’s in-flight magazines and targeted promotional drives in Spain, France, Germany and the United States are also planned.

The promotional campaigns, which are believed to be worth around £550,000, will get under way in the next few weeks – about two months earlier than normal.

The initiative is being masterminded by Festivals Edinburgh, the umbrella body for the city’s 12 leading events, which include the book, jazz, art and film festivals. It is leading efforts to position Edinburgh as the “cultural destination of choice” in the UK this summer.

It has recently been awarded £65,000 from VisitScotland and £78,000 from the Scottish Government’s arts agency, Creative Scotland, for extra marketing next year.

Susan Russell, marketing manager for Festivals Edinburgh, said the majority of work was aimed at attracting visitors and journalists to the city in August. The Olympics will reach a climax three days after the Edinburgh International Festival kicks off and during the second weekend of the Fringe.

She added: “The alignment of the summer festivals with the Olympic and Paralympic Games provides us with one of our central messages – that while the world’s elite and emerging athletes are in London, the world’s elite and emerging cultural talent will be in Edinburgh, as they are every year.”

Festivals Edinburgh is already funded by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh festivals Expo fund, which has been boosted to the tune of £225,000 next year to £2.25 million, to help the city’s events compete with the Olympics.

Edinburgh City Council also recently agreed to put in an extra £650,000 to boost programming and promotion of the festivals next year and in 2014, when Glasgow is hosting the Commonwealth Games.

Faith Liddell, director of Festivals Edinburgh, said: “Our festivals are world-leading brands and next year offers a unique opportunity to capitalise on their reputation for the benefit of Scotland as a whole.”

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “Edinburgh’s Festivals are incredibly important to the tourism landscape of Scotland, bringing in hundreds of millions of pounds into the Scottish economy each year.

“Our funding will be used to develop new marketing activity to help capitalise on the fantastic opportunities presented next year.”

A spokeswoman for the EIF said: “The Edinburgh Festivals offer a very exciting experience to those staycationing in the UK, or visiting, and a genuine alternative to London in 2012.”