Comment: Travellers have far-reaching impact on city

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AS slogans go, it’s pretty apt. Where Scotland meets the world.

In an increasingly international world, our airport has become one of Edinburgh’s biggest assets. It is quite literally what connects us to the rest of the world.

From the queues of bank workers on the red-eye flights to London to the swarms of holidaymakers booking in for their summer holiday or weekend break, the airport keeps the city moving, oiling the wheels of our economy.

We all know plenty of people who rely for their livelihood at least in part on the passengers that come through the airport. Taxi drivers, bus and tram drivers, waitresses, chefs, cleaners, shop workers, and so on. The list is endless.

Today’s report from the BIGGAR Economics consultancy offers an attempt to quantify that importance, not just to Edinburgh but to Scotland as well.

Almost £1 billion a year? A total of 23,000 jobs? There are always suspicions that reports like this overstate the economic impact of any single organisation, but you only have to look around you to appreciate the far-reaching impact that air travellers have on the Capital.

Of course the aviation industry has to do more as a whole to address the environmental impact of its activities, but the fast-changing pace of technology is making that ever easier to achieve. The future expansion of the airport also has to be carefully managed so that the quality of life of the people living below its flight paths is respected.

But this report is a reminder of what can be gained from supporting that growth and managing it effectively.

Scotland and Edinburgh have a bright future. For a country that sits, geographically at least, on the fringes of Europe, a big part of that optimism has to come from the strength of our connections to the rest of the continent and the world.