Plans to turn the old Royal High School into a world-class luxury hotel will attract new international air links to the Capital, the chief executive of Edinburgh Airport has said.
Gordon Dewar said airlines would use the marquee attraction in publicity material aimed at first-class travellers from the Middle East and China in particular.
Developers have raised £55 million from private investors to turn the derelict building on Calton Hill into a global destination hotel in a bid to attract some of the world’s wealthiest visitors to Scotland.
Mr Dewar, who also sits on the board of VisitScotland and the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said the hotel would help sell more first and business-class tickets. He said: “When we talk about what are referred to as ‘six star’ [hotels], these are a handful of operators that are truly world brands and the biggest world cities get excited about attracting them.
“The thing that gets the attention of people from Brazil or India or China is when they get some brand recognition that bolsters their view that this is a place that they would like to visit.
“Airlines that are looking to bring new routes to Scotland will see this sort of investment and think ‘this is going to contribute to being able to sell this destination to all of our passengers’ and, really importantly, the business class and first-class tickets that are key to the overall commercial performance of the route.”
The airport has expanded its links to the Middle East, attracting Turkish Airlines in 2012, Qatar Airways in 2014 and Etihad Airways from 2015.
“You have no idea how upbeat they will be at this development, because they are selling tickets from Australia, China and from the Middle East itself,” Mr Dewar said.
“These are the sorts of brands that they can put on their in-flight magazines and sell through their networks.”
The airport chief’s comments were echoed by Robin Worsnop, the chairman of the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, who said the hotel would “put Edinburgh on the map as a destination”. “I know that the top end of the market would welcome another player alongside the Balmoral and the Waldorf Astoria,” he said.
“It’s definitely part of the Edinburgh tourism strategy to attract wealthy visitors to the city.”
The Evening News yesterday revealed that developer Duddingston House Properties (DHP) aims to create a luxury hotel on a par with some of the most exclusive in Europe, commanding prices unlike anything seen in the Scottish tourist trade so far.
Three luxury international brands that don’t have hotels in Scotland are on a shortlist to run the old Royal High School once renovations are complete.