Edinburgh has highest hotel occupancy as visitor numbers rise and prices soar

General shots of tourists at edinburgh castle. Pic: Ian Georgeson
General shots of tourists at edinburgh castle. Pic: Ian Georgeson
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EDINBURGH had the highest hotel occupancy out of all UK cities last year as the number of visitors increased and room prices soared.

The average occupancy rate in the Capital’s hotels was 83.7 per cent, compared with 81.7 in London.

According to the city council’s annual Edinburgh by Numbers document, overseas visitors to Edinburgh are now estimated at 1,749,200 per year, up from 1,605,900.

And the average price for a hotel room in Edinburgh was £103 per night in 2017, compared to £149 in London, and up by 10.4 per cent from 2016.

In total, 5000 new hotel rooms were completed in Edinburgh over the past 10 years, with 1575 of them added in the last two years.

Edinburgh draws in more oversees visitors per year than other UK cities outside London. And the average length of stay for overseas visitors to Edinburgh and the Lothians was 5.3 nights.

Based on detailed figures for 2016, around 4.26 million visitors - both domestic and overseas - stayed a total of 15.63 million bed nights in Edinburgh and the Lothians and spend £1.5 billion.

Some 41 per cent stayed in a hotel, 40 per cent with friends or relatives, three per cent at a B&B or guest house and four per cent each self-catering or in a caravan.

Visitors staying overnight in the Capital spent over £117 per person per day, up by around £10 on the same period as the previous year.

The number of Airbnb arrivals in Edinburgh over a year, July 2016 to July 2017, was 496,000.

Edinburgh has seven out of ten of Scotland’s top tourist attractions, headed by the National Museum of Scotland.

Edinburgh’s festivals collectively attract audiences of over 4.5 million and have an economic impact of £313 million annually. The Fringe had around 2.7 million attendees in 2017, 61 per cent of them from outside Scotland. The International Book festival attracted around 389,000 with an estimated 49 per cent being from Edinburgh, while the Tattoo had audiences totalling 220,000, 82 per cent of them from outside Scotland and just three per cent local.

Some 61 per cent of Edinburgh residents went to the cinema last year, while museums and theatres each attracted 42 per cent, 40 per cent went to a live music concert and 34 per cent to an art gallery.

City council culture convener Donald Wilson said: “Edinburgh is a year-round city of culture and these figures reveal Edinburgh residents are some of the scene’s biggest fans. The city’s leisure offering is one reason Edinburgh is such a great place to live, not just visit.”