‘How can we all enjoy the space we have’

Record crowds are expected for Hogmanay

Record crowds are expected for Hogmanay

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Well if you thought there was going to be any let up in the massive crowds in the city centre over the holidays then think again.

It looks as though the Capital is going to be heaving once more over the coming days as record numbers of visitors fly in for our Hogmanay celebrations. That comes on the back of record-breaking crowds at the Edinburgh’s Christmas markets and fun fairs which spilled over into many of the surrounding shops, bars, restaurants and hotels.

That’s great news for thousands of us - from cabbies to shopkeepers, restaurateurs to hotel cleaners - who rely on the city’s tourism trade for a living. The record-breaking crowds will spell for them a very happy Hogmanay with bumper takings in many cases.

The value of tourism - in terms of supporting jobs and the shops, restaurants and leisure facilities that we all enjoy year-round - has always been enormous to the Capital. The economic uncertainty created by Brexit has only served to highlight the importance of the tourist pound to the city.

But in appreciating all the advantages that these extra visitors bring there is a danger in ignoring the downsides. There is a disenchantment among many who feel that they are being priced and squeezed out of the city centre. They see the negative impact - the extra litter, the rising prices, the bigger crowds - without feeling that there is something for them in the heart of their own city.

Some steps have been taken to address this problem such as the residents discounts offered by Edinburgh’s Christmas in recent years.

But if the city’s tourism industry is to continue growing in this way then greater thought will have to be given to how such vast numbers of people - both visitors and residents alike - can comfortably share the space we have in our beautiful city. These are good problems to have, but they are serious ones too.