Edinburgh's leading heritage group calls for tourism strategy in which expansion is not the 'overriding objective'

Some of the 75,000 audience who attended Edinburgh's Hogmanay.
Some of the 75,000 audience who attended Edinburgh's Hogmanay.
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Edinburgh’s leading heritage group has called for a focus on managing the impact of the tourism industry in the Capital as plans for the city’s tourism strategy take shape.

In its consultation response to Edinburgh City Council’s Tourism Strategy 2030, The Cockburn Association said continual tourism growth should not be the “overriding objective” for the council.

It added that unmanaged growth of the tourism industry would not be an “unmitigated benefit”, and labelled previous growth targets “crude”.

The association also called on the council to pay more attention to the “needs and perceptions” of Edinburgh’s residents and said events in the city centre were “out of sync with the character of the city”.

'More cautious'

The response also references the “apparent conflict” between the council’s role as a promoter and regulator, which has caused controversy this year, particularly in regards to the Christmas Market.

It states: “What we need to question is events which are out of sync with the character of the city, and large-scale projects, largely financed from outside, mainly designed to generate profit rather than meet the real needs of residents or visitors.

“We need to be much more cautious about the capacity of the city to absorb major new projects/events (or expanded existing projects/events).

“The Council needs to be more assertive in requiring investors to demonstrate clearly the benefits of projects to the city.

“In this, the apparent conflict of the City Council in both promoter and regulator needs a much more coherent framework, and one which residents and local communities in particular can have confidence in.

“Regrettably, this is lacking at the moment.”

The response adds: “The desire to move from driving growth to managing growth is welcome, but is still a growth model.

“Managing the existing levels of tourism should be the starting point before any quantitative increase is contemplated.”

The draft strategy, which had been released for a consultation which shut on Monday 15 December, states that tourism does benefits as well as recognises it “occasionally pose[s] challenges”.

The council describes tourism as “one of the city’s biggest success stories” with more than 4.3 million visitors a year, and employing 33,000 of the half a million residents in Edinburgh.