NEW hotels due to open in Edinburgh over the next three years will add nearly 2000 extra rooms to the city.
The latest edition of Edinburgh by Numbers, produced by the city council, shows an annual 4.01 million visits to Edinburgh – 2.47 million from domestic tourists and 1.54 million from overseas – staying for a total of 14.36 million nights and spending a total of £1462 million.
The publication also shows that between June and September last year, hotel occupancy rates in the Capital were at above 90 per cent.
January saw the lowest occupancy rate (60 per cent) but May and October both recorded 86 per cent occupancy and December saw 82 per cent.
Hotel room occupancy rates are projected at 82.5 per cent in Edinburgh in 2017, a higher rate than predicted for most other major European cities.
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Among visitors from the rest of Great Britain, 35 per cent stayed with family or friends, 33 per cent in hotels, 15 per cent were self-catering, six per cent in B&Bs or guest houses and three per cent were caravanning or camping.
The vast majority of overseas visitors – 67 per cent – said they were here on holiday, while 19 per cent said they were visiting friends or relatives and 11 per cent were on business.
An analysis of daily expenditure by visitors shows £34.19 going on accommodation, £24.85 on eating and drinking, £17.43 on shopping, £10.80 on entertainment, and £5.46 on travel and transport.
A breakdown of where Edinburgh’s overseas visitors came from show that over the three years 2014-16, the United States accounted for the biggest number (298,800) followed by Germany (215,000), France (115,000), Australia (88,000), Spain (76,000), Canada (71,000), the Netherlands (67,000), Italy (62,000) and Ireland (58,000).
Edinburgh draws more oversees visitors per year than other UK cities outside of London.
The average annual total of visitors from other countries to Edinburgh in 2014-16 was 1,605,900.
Next nearest was Manchester with 1,112,200 followed by Birmingham (1,055,200) and Glasgow (648,200).
Visitors to the Capital are more concentrated in the summer, with 42.4 per cent of all overseas visitors for the year coming to Edinburgh between July and September.
The average figure for UK cities was 30.7 per cent of visitors concentrated in that period.
By the same token, only 12 per cent of Edinburgh’s overseas visitors came between January and March, compared with the UK average 19.6 per cent.
And only 16.5 per cent came in October-December, compared with 23.9 per cent nationally.
The document lists attendances at last year’s Festivals – including 2,475,100 at the Fringe and 225,500 at the Tattoo – and the top visitor attractions in the Capital.
The National Museum of Scotland, 2016’s number one, saw 1,810,900 visitors, up 15.5 per cent on the previous year.
Close behind was the Castle, with 1,778,500, up 13.4 per cent, while Edinburgh Zoo attracted 574,200, 9.4 per cent down from the year before, and the Scottish Parliament was visited by 269,600, a drop of 6.7 per cent.
Eight out of Scotland’s top 12 visitor attractions in 2016 are based in Edinburgh.
The Capital also has more Michelin-reviewed restaurants than other major UK cities outside London.
A total of 36 eateries in the Capital have been rated by Europe’s oldest hotel and restaurant guide.
Twenty-eight have been awarded a “Michelin Plate” – which signifies a restaurant “serving good food simply”; four have a “Bib Gourmand” – meaning a “good restaurant at reasonable prices”; and four have been awarded Michelin stars, signalling “high quality cooking, worth a stop”.
Among other cities, Bristol also has four starred Michelin restaurants, Bradford two and Birmingham six.
Culture convener Councillor Donald Wilson said tourism was vital to the Capital’s economy.
He welcomed the Michelin ratings.
“Virtually everything in Edinburgh is international,” he said.
“In Edinburgh, international is not just a name, it’s a whole approach – and that extends to the culinary offering, which is versatile and high quality.”
And Cllr Wilson said tourism in Edinburgh was “a wee bit different” from other places.
“It’s an active thing, not just coming to look, but taking part.
“The festivals are very participative and part of the culture of the city.
“People don’t just come to visit, but to join in.”