Why criticism of ‘dirty, hostile’ Edinburgh is a load of rubbish

Problems with parking and litter cannot take away 'the sheer wonder of Edinburgh'. Pic: Paul Parke
Problems with parking and litter cannot take away 'the sheer wonder of Edinburgh'. Pic: Paul Parke
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VISITSCOTLAND chief Manuela Calchini hits back after tourist Grace Migliaccio wrote to the Evening News and branded the Capital ‘dirty’ and ‘hostile’.

“When I was asked to defend Edinburgh as a tourism destination, a large smile spread across my face. In life, you often come across things that are hard to justify and make a case for. Edinburgh is definitely not one of those things.

Go out there today and look around you. No, not at the mundane everyday quibbles with parking or litter that annoy every resident in every city in the world, but look beyond that to the most breathtaking urban landscape of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

I’m not saying that issues over parking, litter and hospitality are unimportant – of course they should be dealt with – and we are always listening to feedback and learning. But this cannot take away from the sheer wonder that is Edinburgh.

“Edinburgh,” said the writer Robert Louis Stevenson, “is what Paris ought to be.” Its magnificent architecture shifts from the lofty tenements and narrow closes of the medieval Old Town as they tumble down the spine of the Royal Mile, to the grace of the Georgian New Town. Above it all, in its towering splendour, stands the Castle.

Every step is a revelation, an alleyway which reveals an ancient courtyard, or a wynd which opens up a new panorama. And yet within this sweeping elegance is a compact, bustling city and, above all, a city which rewards every visitor. Beyond the city, the Lothian countryside provides a beautiful setting for the rich gems of the Capital. This is an area steeped in history, filled with castles, great houses and battle sites.

And the visitors love it here. Just watch as tourists in their thousands appear out of Waverley station and are faced by the sight of Edinburgh Castle for the first time. A look of absolute wonder appears on their faces and then the cameras are out to capture every special moment of our spectacular city in every single light. 3.8 million people visit Edinburgh every year – a quarter of all visitors to Scotland as a whole – and an impressive 97 per cent of those would definitely or probably recommend Edinburgh as a destination to others.

Of course, from July until the end of August, Edinburgh’s festivals transform Scotland’s historical capital into a vibrant stage for global entertainment, debate and the arts. From the opening notes of the Jazz and Blues Festival to the crescendo of the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert to end the Edinburgh International Festival, each summer is unique in our Festival City.

Have I made the case? I hope so! Of course, improvements are always being made and are welcome, but the numbers speak for themselves. Edinburgh is a much loved city for visitors and residents alike. Get out and enjoy it this summer!”

Manuela Calchini is regional director for VisitScotland

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