Angry business owners have questioned value for money given the state of the city’s overflowing bins, after a poll by TripAdvisor showed Edinburgh visitors are paying almost £300 for a weekend break.
The situation is so bad in the Grassmarket, that locals claim tourists have been stopping to take photographs of piled-up rubbish, before sharing them on social media.
Ena Henderson, who grew up in the area, said the state of the popular tourist hotspot is “an embarrassment” and questioned why people would want to fork out when equivalent UK and European destinations are cleaner and offer better value.
“You have all this money coming into Edinburgh with the Festival, it should be looking a lot better,” she said.
The 65-year-old was enjoying a drink with friends early on Saturday evening when she saw visitors taking snaps of the overflowing bin shown pictured right. She said: “It made me embarrassed to be from Edinburgh.
“People had been going to use the bins but couldn’t because they were so full. They were putting the rubbish next to it so it’s not like people weren’t trying. I had one man from America, an attorney, who said he had never seen anything like it.”
The plight of the city’s streets comes as the Capital topped a survey as the priciest place to spend a weekend. One night in Edinburgh – including a room in a four-star hotel, a dinner for two of steak and chips, two Martinis and a taxi home – came top of the rankings, almost twice as much as an equivalent stay in Nottingham, rated best for value.
“For the price of one night in a hotel in Edinburgh, travellers can have nearly three nights in a Nottingham hotel,” said a spokesman for the travel company. Edinburgh’s hefty price tag is comparable to breaks to European destinations like Geneva and Berlin – causing some to question the value for money on offer.
Grassmarket jeweller Ian Clarkson said: “My son has just come back from a festival in Bern, Switzerland. He said there were plenty of people but not a bit of litter was to be seen. It’s not just like it for the Festival, it’s the same every weekend. Please give us more bins.”
The Greater Grassmarket Business Improvement District (BID) is organising a week-long clean-up project by private contractors, but called for council bosses to do more while the Fringe is taking place.
Project manager Georgia Artis said: “Businesses have been helping where they can, people have been going out with brooms and litter pickers to clean the area. We have been working with the council in the build-up to the Festival but there needs to be more frequent pick-ups of litter and more attention paid to the area.”
Measures to address the extra waste, including more bins and more frequent collections, have been tried but are still falling short. Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport and environment convener, said staff are “under a lot of pressure to cope” given the huge increase in litter.
She said: “Bins are being emptied several times a day and street cleaners are carrying out regular sweeps. If bins get filled up, then it won’t be long before they are emptied.”