Portobello tourist drive hops on bus to the beach

THE LOTHIAN Buses number 26 is to be rebranded the "bus to the beach" in a bid to promote the Capital's seaside.

Residents in Portobello have been campaigning for the area to be better promoted, claiming that many tourists are unaware of the existence of the beach and the promenade.

Local groups also believe the council could be doing more to advertise the area as a destination by putting up new tourism signs.

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Portobello councillor Maureen Child said she had been asked on their behalf to try to get the council and Lothian Buses on board with the tourism action plan.

She said: "We have to make Portobello into a place to go so we can get our brown tourist signs.

"The idea would be to have them in the city centre to show the tourists that this is a place to go. We want to make tourists aware that if they come to Edinburgh, Portobello should be one of the places they visit, especially if they have kids.

"Most people don't even know that Edinburgh has a seaside."

Councillor Child spoke to Lothian Buses, which has now confirmed that the vision for a "bus to the beach" – as suggested on the popular Talk Porty online forum by local residents – is part of its own plan to promote the Capital's best tourist destinations.

Ian Craig, managing director, said: "We are looking to feature some of Edinburgh's most popular destinations as we revise our vehicle route branding, including Portobello Beach.

"Accessing the beach via our bus services is easy, convenient and good for the environment."

Local resident and regular contributor on Talk Porty, Bob Jefferson, said: "Everyone who lives in Portobello feels that Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and one of the most popular destinations in the world and Portobello is Edinburgh's beach so we should be doing more to promote it.

"The vast majority of people who arrive in Edinburgh don't even know that it has a beach and I think this is the council's fault for failing to promote it."

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In order to receive the brown tourism signs, Portobello has to be officially accredited by VisitScotland, which the residents can apply for.

It is then in the hands of the council whether or not to erect the signs promoting the area as a visitor attraction.

Sinead Feltoe, VisitScotland's regional director for Edinburgh, said: "We are so lucky to have a beach as beautiful as Portobello within just a few minutes' drive from the city centre.

"We're always keen to ensure visitors are guaranteed a quality experience and so we'd be delighted to hear from the group in Portobello if they are keen to take the first steps to having the beach accredited as a natural attraction. We will happily advise them as to the next steps in terms of liaising with their local authority."