Edinburgh slammed in Chinese travel feature

Travel writer Tim Pile takes aim at Edinburgh's best and worst bits. Picture: JP
Travel writer Tim Pile takes aim at Edinburgh's best and worst bits. Picture: JP
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BAGPIPING buskers, shops selling ‘tartan tat’, rubbish strewn public areas and the city airport have all come under fire in an article on Edinburgh in a widely-read Hong Kong Newspaper.

The South China Morning Post, with a circulation of around 100,000, published the digs in a travel piece entitled: The good, bad and ugly sides to being a tourist in Edinburgh.

Calton Hill was described as a mugging hot spot where drunks and vagrants hang out. Picture: TSPL

Calton Hill was described as a mugging hot spot where drunks and vagrants hang out. Picture: TSPL

Not afraid to pull any punches, travel writer Tim Pile begins with a list of Edinburgh’s many admirable points before launching - no holds barred - into aspects of Auld Reekie the tourist officials would prefer to omit from the guidebooks.

A section focusing on the Royal Mile’s retail offerings alludes to the historic street’s over-abundance of souvenir shops, ‘tartan tat’ stores and the types of places that exploit ‘corny stereotypes for tourist consumption’.

Traditional street musicians aren’t spared either, with the suggestion that passers-by in Edinburgh only offer bagpipers money in a desperate bid to make them stop.

The anti-Edinburgh tour continues with the Fringe under attack for subjecting locals to a month of ‘crowds, congestion, rubbish-strewn public areas and late-night street noise’.

The travel feature questions the legitmacy of the Greyfriars Bobby tale. Picture: TSPL

The travel feature questions the legitmacy of the Greyfriars Bobby tale. Picture: TSPL

And Calton Hill, one of the city’s best vantage points and most famous beauty spots, is condemned as a mugging hot spot frequented by rough sleepers and alcohol-fuelled adolescents.

Likewise Canongate Kirkyard is derided as a place where visitors should ‘be prepared’ to encounter ‘aggressive panhandlers seeking donations for their beverage fund’.

Even the city’s most loyal pooch, Greyfriars Bobby, fails to escape the writer’s wrath. The famous Skye terrier is outed as a fake, created in the nineteenth century as a tool to drive tourism and fill a nearby restaurant with patrons.

But special venom is reserved for Edinburgh Airport. The writer points to online reviews that described the terminal as a ‘Total Embarrassment to Scotland’ and a ‘A Complete Disgrace’ and informs readers of its apparent reputation as ‘one of the world’s worst’ airports.

Edinburgh Airport is not let off lightly in the travel feature. Picture: TSPL

Edinburgh Airport is not let off lightly in the travel feature. Picture: TSPL

Lastly, in the ‘ugly’ section of the article, Mr Pile writes that Edinburgh’s often inclement weather flies in the face of its status as one of the UK’s best towns for quality of life.

Tourists are then left with a warning that their photos will appear ‘gloomy’ and ‘underexposed’ due to a ‘combination of cement-coloured skies and dark, soot-stained sandstone buildings’.

The full travel feature can be read here.