Edinburgh a ‘step closer’ to securing direct flight to China

Edinburgh's hoteliers are throwing their support behind the Capital's ambitious plans to secure Scotland's first direct flight from China
Edinburgh's hoteliers are throwing their support behind the Capital's ambitious plans to secure Scotland's first direct flight from China
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Edinburgh’s hoteliers are throwing their support behind the Capital’s ambitious plans to secure Scotland’s first direct flight from China.

It follows the announcement that Edinburgh Hotels Association (EHA) will be the second major sponsor of the Edinburgh-China Air Link project (E-CAL). Delivered and funded by Marketing Edinburgh, Edinburgh Airport and the city council, E-CAL is a collaboration of private business and public organisations, united in their objective to make this high-value direct carrier route a reality.

Representing 50 of Edinburgh’s leading hotels, EHA joins luxury family jewellers, Laing Edinburgh, the project’s inaugural official sponsor.

Now ranked in the top twelve of Scotland’s international inbound markets, ­Chinese visitor numbers to the country have increased by 230 per cent in the last ten years. Edinburgh is the number one UK destination outside of ­London, attracting 82 per cent of Scotland’s total Chinese inbound visitor market, which reached a value of £25.78 million in 2016, accounting for 71 per cent of Chinese visitor spend in Scotland overall.

From increased food exports to meet demands of China’s growing middle class, to successful research partnerships between Edinburgh University and Chinese corporations such as Huawei, a direct air link is seen by many from across all industry sectors as the pivotal next step strengthening business connections between ­Scotland and China.

Tristan Nesbitt, chairman of Edinburgh Hotels Association, said: “As the unified voice of Edinburgh’s hotel industry, Edinburgh Hotels Association is thrilled to become a sponsor of this landmark tourism development for the capital.

“It’s evident that the popularity of Scotland and Edinburgh as a destination for Chinese visitors has snowballed over the past five years and with no signs of it slowing down, a direct flight from China is the natural next step.”

Fiona Hunter of Marketing Edinburgh, the Edinburgh-China Air Link project manager, said: “Our bid to secure a direct air link from Scotland to China has been building traction over the past year as we increase awareness of just how pivotal a direct flight could be for Edinburgh and the country as a whole. The economic ­benefits of a direct route have significant and positive ­implications for Edinburgh’s tourism, hospitality and retail sectors.

“We’re keen to build collaborative working with further forward-thinking businesses who recognise the value and opportunity the E-CAL project represents.”

Councillor Gavin Barrie, the city council’s economy convener, said: “Later this month we will launch our economic strategy for the next five years and a key part of its success will depend upon our continued ability to promote Edinburgh as a quality investment location to the world’s leading economies, including China’s.”