LEGIONS of rugby fans flooding the Capital to take in the Six Nations are boosting city coffers by £30 million a year.
Tournament sponsor RBS has revealed the extra spending in the city’s bars, restaurants, hotels and shops generates the equivalent of 430 jobs.
In Edinburgh alone, RBS has estimated that occupancy rates in hotels jump by almost a quarter.
Thousands of rugby fans will descend on the Capital today to watch Scotland take on England in the Calcutta Cup.
Graham Birse, director of Edinburgh Institute at Edinburgh Napier University, said the contest was a huge draw for fans from all over the UK.
Mr Birse, who will be in the crowds at Murrayfield to watch the match, said: “Apart from the amount of money the Six Nations brings in, it’s the time of year that makes it so valuable.
“Late January and early February is normally a time when people are not taking short breaks and coming into Edinburgh to spend money. So to have overnight stays really does help the hospitality industry. What otherwise would be part-time jobs become full-time jobs and that’s what we need, especially when it comes to tackling youth unemployment.
“Wouldn’t it be great if, in addition to the economic boost, Scotland gets a win at Murrayfield today?”
Of the 430 jobs generated in Scotland, 310 result from spending by spectators and their friends and family who come to Edinburgh but do not attend matches.
The Murrayfield games attracted a total television audience of 19 million last year, with the England v Scotland match reaching an audience of 8.7 million.
The competition also brings in revenue from sponsorship and media rights which generate additional economic benefits.
Rugby fan Pauline Kelly, 30, who works in human resources, said: “I’ve had some amazing times during the Six Nations.
“I’m not surprised it brings in so much money – when a match is on the atmosphere in the Capital is second to none.”
Pub owner Graham Blaikie, who runs Mercat Bar in the West End, also said it provided a much-welcome boost.
He said: “I certainly do get a kick from the rugby. I wish the Welsh and the Irish were here every weekend.”
And across all six nations – in Britain, France, Ireland and Italy – RBS believes spending will total £375m. Economists also believe fans are likely to spend as much as £9m in Scotland’s bars and restaurants, £6m on hotels and other accommodation and £3m in shops.
Stephen Boyle, head of RBS economics, said: “The RBS Six Nations is more than just a tournament with 15 games of rugby. The boost to the economy and the local businesses is very real, especially during what is usually a quiet time in the tourist season.”