Tourist slams ‘dirty, hostile Edinburgh’ - Is she right?

Is Edinburgh dirty and 'filled with debris? Picture: Ian Georgeson
Is Edinburgh dirty and 'filled with debris? Picture: Ian Georgeson
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It’s the time of year when Edinburgh likes to look its best as thousands of revellers arrive for the Festival.

But one tourist has been left disappointed after visiting the Capital from Italy.

Edinburgh's parking facilities were branded complicated, with too few spaces. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

Edinburgh's parking facilities were branded complicated, with too few spaces. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

Grace Migliaccio wrote to us complaining of dirty streets and a complicated parking payment system.

And she said shopkeepers and restaurant staff were “hostile”.

She wrote: “The city should look into its heart and ask itself whether it truly wants to be a visitor destination.”

Obviously, this is one person’s view – but does it reflect your own experiences of Edinburgh?

Read the letter below and let us know what you think by commenting here, posting on our Facebook page or emailing newsen@edinburghnews.com

With thousands of visitors descending on your city this August, I wanted to share with you my experience as a first time visitor this week.

I travel for a living and consult with venues, businesses and service providers to create a great customer, guest and visitor experience. Rarely have I been to a place that has been less friendly or more inhospitable than Edinburgh. Please allow me to give you a few examples:

1. Your city appears very dirty, with debris visible everywhere and the buildings blackened as if by soot. While the ancient structures are breathtaking, the overall appearance is one of filth and pollution. This is one’s first impression.

2. Never have I experienced such a complicated parking payment system as your street parking nor a lack of public parking in general.

Parking machines do not accept credit cards or notes, only coins and lots and lots of those are required, or one must download an app, which requires wifi, which is not available to visitors of your city like in most major cities today.

Or one can call a phone number to make payment over the phone. I doubt most international visitors have UK SIM card phones. All of these options are preposterous to a visitor from out of town. The apparent message to us is that parking is for locals not visitors.

3. Determined to see the city, I went into what I thought an obvious place to get enough coins to use the parking system, a Bank of Scotland branch.

After waiting in a long line, I apologised that I was there to get change for a £10 note for parking, to which the cashier haughtily replied that she could not provide change unless I had an account with the bank, which by my accent and demeanour she clearly knew I did not.

This would never happen in other cities like London, San Francisco, New York or Rome, all of which I have recently visited. Why in Edinburgh, in the very heart of the visitor centre of town, would your business leaders so disdain the query of a visitor who is simply trying to park in order to patronise your restaurants and shops?

4. I met similar indifference or hostility from shopkeepers, venue staffers and restaurateurs.

By contrast, one young greeter at the castle was so friendly, asking visitors how they enjoyed their trip to the castle. When the answer wasn’t positive, she perkily tried to overcome their experience with the sheer force of positive energy. I asked her where she was from - Spain.

I knew she couldn’t be Scottish from her demeanour and good cheer. In fact, it is hard to even find a native Scot working in and around the Royal Mile and that is likely not a coincidence.

The city should look into its heart and ask itself whether it truly wants to be a visitor destination. Good service has to come from the heart and I do not sense that it is in the heart of the Edinburgh people and that is OK to admit. At least it is honest. It’s not for everyone, regardless of the history or beauty of a city.

Grace Migliaccio, Italy