Glasgow 2014: Edinburgh Commonwealth Games boost

: British diver Tom Daley, with the Games baton, will be competing in the Capital. Picture: Getty
: British diver Tom Daley, with the Games baton, will be competing in the Capital. Picture: Getty
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SOME of the world’s finest athletes will be limbering up 50 miles away, but the Capital is set for a breathtaking 
spin-off from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Hoteliers, transport chiefs and contractors this side of the M8 are poised to cash in on a bumper tourist season while a Games’ recruitment drive has seen a wedge of the Edinburgh workforce travel west to man the summer spectacular.

It is thought the Games ‘effect’ may have already ploughed £52 million into the Scottish economy – creating around 1000 jobs in each of the last six years – but while no studies consider the upshot for Edinburgh, economists are trumpeting a major “bounce” for the city.

More than 100 elite divers – including sport posterboy Tom Daley – will arrive within weeks ahead of the four-day Commonwealth diving event at the Royal Commonwealth Pool with surrounding guesthouses reporting a huge spike in bookings and corresponding price hikes.

Lorna and Douglas Lyons, of the Clan Guesthouse on Dalkeith Road, say they are already fully booked – far in advance of the usual Festival rush – and have raised room prices by 20 per cent to £100 a night.

“People are happy to pay and they are all booked in for longer,” said Mrs Lyons explained. “We are definitely busy and not normally full at this time of year.”

Websites devoted to couch-surfing and house-swapping have been flooded by sports fans hunting out an Edinburgh base for the Games.

And a surge of savvy homeowners are swamping the ­online market with around 20 new listings a day appearing on international letting sites.

Australian Matthew Parker, 37, web editor of sporteventsrentmyhouse.com which advertises short-term lets ahead of major showcases, said the Edinburgh section of the site was 
booming.

“It’s been ­really popular,” he explained. “We’ve had more than 1000 listings over the last six months and that’s just for the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup even though we’ve not really been advertising for it.”

And he claims canny property owners were charging up to four times the standard rental price with foreign visitors willing to pay over the odds to avoid extortionate hotel prices.

“We’ve even had the New Zealand bowls team coming through wanting a place to stay in Edinburgh, so there’s been quite a few athletes looking for their friends too,” he said.

Stuart George, 26, advertised his three-bedroom apartment for the entirety of the Games and is reported to have raked in a hefty four-figure sum with the arrangement.

Edinburgh Airport is expecting an “incredibly busy” pre-Games rush while a fleet of extra trains will be laid on to shuttle the daily ­exodus of Games visitors to Glasgow,

Trains will run until after 1am on some routes and a quarter-hourly service will also run on the flagship Edinburgh to Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High route for almost the entire day, rather than just peak times.

They will also help to ferry scores of city workers to ­Commonwealth venues in Glasgow, including Edinburgh Academy hockey coach Neil Sinclair, 55, of Portobello, who has been recruited as the scoreboard operator for eight international matches.

One of the VIP drivers at Edinburgh’s 1986 Games, Morag Goulden, 68, is back overseeing events at the Royal Commonwealth Pool while Capital technician Andy 
McMillan will be among the camera operators for the opening ceremony.

Business leaders expect 
“exceptional levels of visitors” to Edinburgh with the Commonwealth Games among the key “driving factors”.

David Birrell, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, said the groundswell of interest in the Games was “good news for the Capital’s economy overall”. “Many Games participants and spectators from further afield are predicted to be tempted to take the opportunity to visit Scotland’s capital while they’re in the country,” he said. “The fact the diving competition is being hosted here is an additional draw.

“Edinburgh is used to ­attracting international ­attention and does it well. Success breeds success as we see tourists interested in key events return and encourage others to visit too.

VisitScotland calculated that thousands of visitors will ­travel from Glasgow to ­Edinburgh during the Games.

Regional director Manuela Calchini, said: “We know, from a Glasgow 2014 survey of more than 10,000 spectators, that one in ten people want to combine attending the event with a longer trip and 40 per cent of those named Edinburgh as somewhere they wanted to explore when they visit Glasgow for the Games.

“A third of spectators also stated they were willing to travel for up to two hours to reach Glasgow which presents a real opportunity for Edinburgh accommodation providers. All indications therefore point to the Games providing a significant boost for Edinburgh’s visitor numbers.”

katie.richardson@edinburghnews.com

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