Bid to bring more visitors to Edinburgh in winter

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Taxi drivers and tour guides are being brought on board a major drive to boost tourism in the winter season.

Up to 50 exhibitors will promote their offers at the Edinburgh Tourism Winter Showcase, including attractions such as Mary King’s Close and 
Mercat Tours.

The event has been organised by the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG), in a bid to prepare tourism and hospitality businesses for the season and increase the number of visits between October and March.

And they are working to encourage frontline tourism staff such as taxi drivers, tour guides, bus drivers and restaurant staff to come along and find out more about what the Capital has to offer.

Among the attractions being showcased at the event are the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, theatre showstoppers such as The Lion King and War Horse and festive pantomimes. Also on the bill is the National Museums Scotland’s spring 2014 blockbuster exhibition ‘Mammoths of the Ice Age’.

Robin Worsnop, chairman of the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, said: “We decided to develop a winter programme to make Edinburgh an all- year-round destination and we thought it was best to bring people together to promote what already exists in the 
Capital.

“It means taxi drivers can offer their passengers advice about what sort of entertainment is going on so visitors can get the most out of their experience.

“The initiative will cover the period from October through to March when there’s lots of stuff going on – it’s going to be bring major benefits to the city.”

The Capital has around one million empty overnight stays each year – of which 70 per cent are in the months October to March.

ETAG has also said it hopes to develop at least one new event – such as a food festival or winter lighting event – to help fill one of the slowest periods of the year for tourism.

Mr Worsnop added: “The under-use of accommodation is also reflected in other sectors of tourism, particularly in restaurants, attractions, air and rail capacity but also in arts and entertainment venues.

“The showcase will help businesses identify opportunities to collaborate and create new winter offers which attract additional visitors and at the same time enable tourism operators to more effectively exploit the wide range of activities, events and performances and attractions that are already in place across the city over the winter period.”

The event will see the launch of a winter ETAG Business Opportunity Guide, including information, case studies and tips to help businesses maximise the opportunities the season can offer.

Manuela Calchini, regional director for VisitScotland, said: “This is another great opportunity for the Edinburgh tourism community to get together and learn about the winter tourism product and cross-sell this to visitors who are coming over the winter period, November to March. “There is so much to see and do in Edinburgh and the Lothians over the whole year so it’s a great destination to visit at any time.”