Comment: Port could be next big tourist attraction

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the vision of Leith as the home not only of the Royal Yacht Britannia but also of HMS Edinburgh and a dynamic new museum is an
exciting one.

With its wide choice of places to eat and shop, from Ocean Terminal to the Shore and beyond, the port already has a lot to offer visitors.

But one thing that experience has taught us is that it is difficult to drag tourists away from the city centre and its world-famous
attractions.

Yes, the Royal Yacht does that, drawing up to 300,000 visitors a year, but many simply head straight back to the Unesco heritage site afterwards without stopping for so much as a latte. Many tourists have a limited amount of time and they understandably want to get around the big ticket attractions.

Changing those habits is extremely difficult – but not impossible. And things might just be turning significantly in Leith’s favour right now.

Firstly, there is a growing possibility that the tram line will be extended to the port in the not too distant future. The bus to Leith might be just as easy, but more tourists will visit by tram. Then, there is the St James Quarter redevelopment which will bring millions more people to the top of Leith Walk, from where it will be much easier to convince them to take one more step down to Leith.

History is a big part of what brings visitors to Edinburgh. Leith has it in spades – and is finally starting to sell it properly. The new museum and renewed interest in Leith Links’ golfing history thanks to its new statue add to established attractions like the Royal Yacht and Trinity House maritime museum. Combine that with the great bars and restaurants and you have a great package to sell.

The visitors won’t come by chance – a strong marketing campaign will be essential. But there is an opportunity there if Leith is ready to grab it with both hands.