Comment: Experience of the city centre is hard to beat

When it comes to city centre 
attractions, we have plenty to shout about in Edinburgh.

A rich mix of high street and specialist shops, great places to eat and drink, a wealth of museums, galleries and theatres (many of them free to visit), and some of the most spectacular city-centre views anywhere in the world.

There are plenty of other places to do your shopping but the total experience the city centre offers is hard to beat.

The bungled tram construction project was, of course, a complete disaster for the city centre. There were no guarantees after the drubbing that it took that the city centre would bounce back.

The roadworks put many of us off visiting for months and months on end. In that time, we formed new habits, got used to doing our shopping at out-of-town retail parks, or in Glasgow.

So it is hugely encouraging to see shoppers flocking back in large numbers, and the massive 
turnaround in public perceptions of the city centre.

How much of that turnaround would have happened without the first half of the £1 million This is Edinburgh marketing and promotional campaign? It is impossible to tell. But there were genuine and widespread fears that many of us would be slow to return to the city centre once the tram works disappeared.

Many big cities have fared better than smaller ones when it comes to continuing to attract high street visitors in the face of increasing competition from online shopping and out-of-town retail parks. All tend to stage special events and shout about the full, rich experience that they have to offer. None of that comes for free.

But a £1m investment is worth every penny if it helps deliver the £50m in extra spending that the This is Edinburgh campaign is estimated to be on track to deliver.

With the city centre facing major disruption again in the coming years to enable the long-awaited improvements to the St James Quarter, working out precisely what does work to help it thrive is more important than ever.