Boom town revival for Edinburgh as economy grows

Edinburgh scores highly among tourists as the airport, shops and hotels all enjoy success. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Edinburgh scores highly among tourists as the airport, shops and hotels all enjoy success. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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EDINBURGH is enjoying an unprecedented boom town revival with surging growth across a number of key areas, according to a new report.

At the outset of a year that will see the tram network start to roll – and world attention on the Capital as the referendum takes place – we can reveal the report paints the rosiest 
economic outlook Edinburgh has seen for years.

With record tourist numbers setting cash registers ringing, trade up at hotels and restaurants, and further economic growth forecast ahead, it seems we have never had it so good.

Councillor Frank Ross, convener of the economy committee, said: “It is great to hear that hotels, restaurants, visitor attractions and other businesses in the tourism sector are reporting that business is booming in Edinburgh and are optimistic for 2014.”

The glowing tourism snapshot shows 92 per cent of 
tourists rated their trip eight or more out of ten, with a similar number saying they would recommend Edinburgh as a place to visit.

With tourism and city leaders hailing the findings as “extremely encouraging” other key areas include:

n The continued dominance of Edinburgh Airport, which is carrying record numbers of airport passengers;

n Increased footfall and shopping in the Capital’s main shopping districts;

n And hotel occupancy up nearly four per cent to 86.2 per cent.

The quarterly Tourism in Edinburgh Survey, which covers the period between August and October 2013, also showed a boost in pedestrians flocking to Princes Street.

Visitors to the Capital’s famed thoroughfare, which is set to be transformed with continental-style cafes and restaurants in the coming year, increased to 1.4 million in August last year, up 300,000 on the previous year.

A three per cent rise in shopping has been directly linked to the removal of the off-putting and damaging tram works.

Andy Neal, chief executive for Essential Edinburgh, which represents city-centre businesses, said retailers were hoping for a continued resurgence once trams were running.

He said: “Things are looking positive. From a retailing point of view it is encouraging to see the reported spend on shopping up by 3.1 per cent, again giving some cause for optimism.”

The research, carried out by Marketing Edinburgh alongside the council, Essential Edinburgh and Scottish Enterprise, found 44 per cent of visitors rated their visit to the city ten out of ten – up ten per cent on its last survey. Only one per cent gave the Capital half marks and none of those surveyed rated their visit any lower.

The city continues to be rated better value for money than others, including London, and business confidence has risen by 27.8 per cent on the same period in 2012 – its highest level for three years.

On average, visitors spend £34.35 each a day on accommodation, £18.08 on eating and drinking, £14.26 on shopping, £10.53 on entertainment and £4.49 on travel.

John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, said he was certain the upward trend would continue in 2014.

International visitors in the city are expected to soar on the back of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and VisitScotland’s Homecoming.

He said: “Our ongoing ambition is to continue to widen our appeal as a unique, year-round destination.”

kate.pickles@edinburghnews.com