Here’s how Edinburgh could deal with its over-tourism problem – Helen Martin

Edinburgh councillors should learn from other European cities that are struggling with over-tourism, writes Helen Martin.

Monday, 9th December 2019, 11:40 am
Tourist on Edinburgh's Royal Mile (Picture: Scott Louden)

I HAD many responses to last week’s column during the last stages of Edinburgh’s public consultation on tourism, which was wasn’t appealing to angry residents and was a banal tick-box process designed to yield positive feedback.

Comparing our over-tourism management with other cities wasn’t possible without crucial information which came from Barcelona where several steps have been taken to try and manage the devastating effects on locals. I got that from William Thomson, a professional in sustainability events and a writer. Like me, William is originally a Glaswegian, and while I live in Edinburgh, he lives in... Barcelona.

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Sustainability events are obviously something our Capital is looking for, but our council and tourist sector are still at the baby-stage of counting the pennies, boosting hotel income and choking the city.

Councillors taking research trips abroad isn’t normally what any of us would want to fund from council tax. But meetings with other European cities’ local authorities who are learning how to respond to public protests against tourism excess as locals’ interests, lifestyle and benefits are ignored would be educational and help to avoid our city getting even worse.

Would our councillors go with open minds? Would they accept that limitations would be desirable or necessary? Would they be prepared to learn about and find solutions now, rather than wait until too much damage has been done, citizens have moved out and the footfall of extra millions is causing irreparable damage?

The key to all that is whether they stay on the shirt-tails of the tourist sector, or listen to the effects on residents and seriously consider their role to be objective intermediaries between commercial tourism businesses and their electors.