Your city needs you! Time to draw up an Edinburgh bucket list – John McLellan
With the very real possibility that 18,000 tourism-related jobs could be lost in Edinburgh this year as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown, despite yesterday’s Scottish Government announcement that tourism businesses might re-open from July 15, it’s not so much a question of if disaster can be avoided but how bad it’s going to be.
Because of Edinburgh’s reliance of tourism, hospitality and higher education, new figures from accounting giant KPMG predict Edinburgh’s recovery next year will be the slowest of all Scottish local authorities.
A recovery plan produced by the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group starts with a campaign to persuade residents to rediscover, or indeed discover, their own city, and while most people will have visited the main attractions at some point, it’s probable that many won’t have been since their school days or if they have it will have been with children and grand-children.
Most of us can compile an Edinburgh bucket-list of days out – maybe I’ll get to Jupiter Artland this summer, and apart from a funeral reception it must be over 20 years since I went into the Botanic Garden – as long as we’re allowed to sit down and have a drink and a bite to eat.
It’s not going to compensate for losses predicted to be as high as £1bn, but the recovery has to start somewhere and with limited easing of lockdown it has to start as soon as possible.
The campaign will cost £150,000 to run, with money sought from both public and private organisations, and compared to the scale of the collapse is small beer indeed.
When it comes before councillors today there will need to be very good reason for it not to receive full support.
Queen Margaret’s crown jewels are staying put, for now
After my musings a few weeks ago on the future of higher education in Edinburgh, Queen Margaret University has been in touch to say they have no plans to merge their nursing and physiotherapy departments with Edinburgh University’s medical school.
I’m happy, as always, to set the record straight but it does not mean that such combinations are not being mentioned, as indeed this idea was, even if the institutions themselves are not aware. For years these departments have been the jewels in Queen Margaret’s crown and their transfer would unquestionably be a massive blow, but with a £500m funding gap, Scottish universities face many unpalatable choices.
The row with China over Hong Kong means the army of wealthy Chinese post-graduates is unlikely to return quickly to fill university coffers, and even if full lockdown ended tomorrow the cash crisis won’t.
A sign of the times?
New car sales in the first month of lockdown plunged by over 90 per cent, and a sign of things to come is the interest now being shown by one of the Seafield car dealers in giving over its showroom site to house-building.
The whole Seafied industrial estate has been earmarked for housing in the new city plan now under discussion and as other dealers consider consolidation some momentum might develop. The issues of infrastructure and amenities and who pays for them, which are such a headache in West Edinburgh, will be no less problematic here.
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