The city’s in a prime position to attract visitors who want to escape massive New Year ‘celebrations’, says Keven Christie
Happy New Year everyone. I’ve decided today is the last day to wish anyone that before the cut-off period, midnight tonight, which needs to be firmed up so protocol can be adhered to and general order restored.
You can’t be wishing folk a ‘Happy New Year’ next week Dear Readers as that ship has sailed and you can expect a loud knock at the door from the polis for your social indiscretion.
I’m on holiday for a fortnight having worked to escape the hell of Christmas and all that entails what with relatives thrusting their hard-earned cash, socks and After Eights my way.
So, the plan was to watch the entire six seasons of the Rockford Files this week, while gorging on the finest cheese before the gout kicks in; feet swathed in bandages as the servants came to cart me off to the hosser. ‘Which leg shall we amputate first Sir?’
However, a carrier pigeon brought news to the estate in Fife that things have been remiss in the old country over the New Year and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has gone Underbelly-up.
It turns out the people, my fellow Edinburghers, require a champion to fight the rampant capitalism that has engulfed the Capital, with talk of Disneyfication and old Etonians charging people to swim in the freezing waters of the Firth of Forth.
But thankfully not on the Dalgety Bay side where the radioactive particles from the old aircraft dials were found.
I take more than a passing interest in these shenanigans with fond teenage memories of trying to ‘bag-off’ with burdz at The Tron before the bottles rained down as the clock struck midnight.
An altogether gentler time when a chap could accost a woman in the street and attempt to slap the gums on her before all that political correctness went mad.
I fired up Twitter and put the popcorn in the microwave with a view to following the latest developments from Auld Reekie.
From what I can gather Princes Street Gardens has been made to resemble the shows at Burntisland and residents of the Old Town had been shipped out to various caravan parks in East Lothian where they were given free alcohol and allowed to watch the World Darts Championship. Not a bad deal if you ask me.
It’s almost as if they’ve let a child run the cooncil and they’ve decided Willy-Wonka style to turn the whole city into a giant funfair while the rest of Scotland points and laughs.
The residents and their various associations are at loggerheads with my old friends at the cooncil – our elected leaders who this year decided it was a good idea to let people bring their dugs into the library.
But maybe it’s time for me to let sleeping dugs lie.
I understand tourism is of vital importance to the city with research showing Edinburgh has the fourth highest ratio of tourists to locals in the world after Miami, Las Vegas and Dubai, and sits well above 14th placed London. Top of the list Miami sees 1,641 tourists for every 100 locals, with Edinburgh welcoming 445 visitors for every 100 residents.
In this world of butchered Norwegian Christmas trees and Nativity scenes cash is king, with the council describing tourism as “one of the city’s biggest success stories”.
Certainly it’s a bigger success story than health and social care, with Edinburgh having one of the worst rates for delayed discharge in the country at a reported estimated cost of around £20 million.
Next up in the ‘attraction’ stakes will be the Johnnie Walker visitor centre at the old House of Fraser store on Princes Street.
It’s easy to find just across the road from the Edinburgh Gin Distillery and Visitor Centre.
This will give the cooncil further opportunity to bend over backwards to help ‘Big Alcohol’ with the attraction intended to be the focal point of Diageo’s £150 million investment in Scotch whisky tourism.
In a nation crippled by alcoholism locals and tourists will be able to experience ‘a multi-sensory, immersive visitor experience across three floors guiding people through the 200-year history of the brand’.
Ka-ching! Now remember to drink responsibly folks.
Against this pending backdrop and year-round festivals I feel a campaign is needed. Baseball caps will be made up and working titles for Trump-like slogans include – Reclaim the Capital, Take back Control and Get Something Done.
Even as we speak, work is under way on my blueprint for an alternative solution that will appease everyone and allow us to continue to milk the tourist ‘cash cow’.
The plan is to market the Capital as the go-to destination for people who don’t want to celebrate Hogmanay – Edinburgh’s Notmanay.
We simply strip all the tat out of the gardens, dispense with all frippery and return the place to its Gothic splendour – like one of those old Joy Division videos.
The city will retain its “bucket list” status much loved by council leader Adam McVey who hasn’t realised tourists will still come to Edinburgh sans giant cavalcade as there’s one or two other attractions they can look at. The old stuff like the castle and the extinct volcano in the middle of the city for instance.
In that respect it will be similar to other European cities like Paris, Florence and Madrid where tourists still visit despite the lack of a gigantic Christmas market.
But, crucially we’ll mop up the people who want to escape Hogmanay.
Jackie Bird’s off the telly now anyway and with Only an Excuse? at least 15 years past its sell-by date the time has come to put the whole sorry mess to bed.
I propose Jack Docherty hosts a special one-off light entertainment spectacular that goes off air as the clock strikes 11.59pm and we all trot off to our scratchers.
To the sound of no fireworks.