The cost of enjoying the attractions at the Capital’s Christmas celebrations is to be reviewed, organiers promised today as they unveiled record-breaking visitor numbers for last year.
Underbelly, the Fringe promoters who masterminded the festivities for the first time last year, said pricing would be reviewed “across the board” after widespread criticism that its high prices were putting off hard-pressed families.
The pledge came as new figures were released showing the number of people on Princes Street rose by nearly 17 per cent during the festivities compared to the previous year as Edinburgh’s Christmas attracted more than 2.6 million visitors.
Underbelly co-director Charlie Wood urged people to “watch this space” for changes to the programme for his company’s second year at the reins.
Mr Wood said: “We’ll certainly review pricing across the board and we would like to do more especially for children this year. However, the figures we have here show how many people came to the Capital specifically to enjoy the Christmas festivities, and how this improved footfall and sales in Edinburgh city centre. Edinburgh’s Christmas has acted as a real beacon to draw people in.”
Half the 2.6 million visitors that Edinburgh’s Christmas attracted came from outside the Lothians and the majority of people who came - both locals and tourists alike - said the event was their main or only reason for visiting Edinburgh or travelling to the city centre.
Mr Wood said: “When Edinburgh first started holding a Christmas Market it was the first city to do so, but is now competing with almost every other city in the UK, meaning we have to offer a unique, high-quality event.
“These numbers show that we have succeeded in that, and in bringing people and money in to the city.”
Roughly 70 per cent of business surveyed by Essential Edinburgh said they had seen increased turnover during the event when compared with 2012.
Mr Wood added: “We did a survey of all our stallholders and the vast majority said they would be returning this year.”
Many visitors, however, hit out at the high cost of the attractions for families and the price of food and drink, with many highlighting the £4 cost for three marshmallows.
City Festival’s Champion Steve Cardownie said he would ensure that issues raised with Edinburgh’s Christmas organisers were addressed.
He said: “Many of the discussions I have had with Underbelly were about things I first learned about in the pages of the Evening News, and Underbelly have been very open to these talks. The figures released today show what a huge success Edinburgh’s Christmas was, but I will continue to campaign to ensure that the event is both commercially viable and accessible to those from all income brackets. You don’t want parents to be in the horrible position of upsetting their child or their wallet.”
Visitors up after Star Flyer incident
UNDERBELLY bosses have revealed that the number of people riding the Star Flyer increased after an incident which saw the back of a seat fall off while the ride was in motion.
Mother-of-one Darcey Gordon, 23, said she feared for her life when the plastic seat back on the 60-metre high ride fell away and crashed to the ground below.
However, while confirming that the attraction, which was ridden by 62,000 people, would return next year, Underbelly co-director Charlie Wood revealed the incident had not affected the Star Flyer’s popularity. He said: “The Monday after that particular Friday, more people rode the Star Flyer than on any previous Monday.
“It will be returning in 2014, along with another major ride that we will be revealing details of later in the year. Watch this space.”