Kevin Buckle: How do we get the tourists we actually want?

The more discernign visitor has become something of a rarity in Edinburgh. Picture: Scott Taylor
The more discernign visitor has become something of a rarity in Edinburgh. Picture: Scott Taylor
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Tourism is vital to Edinburgh’s economy. The good citizens of Edinburgh, though, are understandably concerned at what they see as a policy of catering for tourists at the expense of those who call Edinburgh their home.

I think everybody would agree that attracting visitors to Edinburgh is to be encouraged but maybe what is not discussed or thought about enough is the type of visitors Edinburgh attracts. One of the many good things about working in a shop is that you get to speak to and hear the views of a lot of people from all over the world. Sometimes, as would happen in the case of tourism, these people would be involved in encouraging visitors to their own city.

Even T in the Park is losing its appeal for some young mjusic fans. Picture: John Devlin

Even T in the Park is losing its appeal for some young mjusic fans. Picture: John Devlin

First of all I rarely ever heard any criticism of Edinburgh the way people might say Venice is amazing but . . . The nearest to any consistent complaint was the lack of interesting retail shops, though it was normally acknowledged this was a worldwide problem these days.

In fact, when it came to any criticism it was often from those involved in the tourist industry themselves who felt Edinburgh rather rested on its laurels, relying on the fact it is such a wonderful city to visit and therefore not trying as hard to attract the varying visitor groups that other tourist boards so expertly and consistently target.

Many were surprised that with the possibility of setting Edinburgh apart from the normal Christmas markets, now seen in many UK and European cities, instead the Christmas festivities were no different from what you might see anywhere else. In fact, being based in such a great setting only highlighted the lack of quality and uniqeness. The vast majority of a vistor’s spend is on their hotel these days, according to Essential Edinburgh figures, and then followed unsurprisingly by food and drink.

What Edinburgh needs is more people prepared to spend money outside of the hospitality sector. Edinburgh has no problem attracting tourists happy to buy silver rings made in Thailand or scarves from China but the more discerning visitor has noticeably become something of a rarity.

The headline “Capital urged to embrace stag and hen do culture” would have sent a shiver down the spine of many but again there is a huge difference between those intent on drunken mayhem and groups of friends all meeting up in a city to celebrate a special occasion.

Those tasked with attracting visitors to Edinburgh seriously need to look at whether more can be done to change the demographic of visitors and then I’m sure more locals would be happy to embrace the fact that Edinburgh is indeed a tourist city.

We must try to make gigs a real goer in Capital

I attended the meeting last Thursday morning at the Usher Hall to discuss whether Edinburgh needed a music champion. The general opinion was that while it was probably a good idea it would be too much for one person to take on and certainly it would need financial support from several sectors.

The other phrase used was “night mayor” but in my mind those two titles are a little different. A music champion would encompass more than just being involved in the night life of the city and promote Edinburgh as a destination for those interested in music.

Now of course, given all the recent closures of music venues, this might be a hard one to pull off. T in the Park organisers only this week pointed out how younger folk’s attitude to attending festivals has changed. As I said only recently “the kids” don’t find the back rooms of pubs cool any more and neither it seems do they wish to stand in a field with a warm pint.

The thing here is whether if venues did appear that should appeal to younger gig goers whether they would actually vote with their feet and turn up or simply just like the gig on Facebook and then stay at home. I honestly don’t know whether it would make a difference or not but it is something that I feel should be given a chance.

Edinburgh has never been short of arty little hipster gatherings but to continue with the hipster theme you can appeal to “the mainstream” without that meaning Ed Sheeran and that is what is currently lacking. I’m well aware it won’t be easy. This is not just about the venues but attracting the artists to play them, which I’m told is not easy these days either. However, I think for a city of Edinburgh’s size and reputation we have to try.

Citadel gives us food for thought

Thursday was a long day for me as after being at the Usher Hall in the morning I stayed in Edinburgh and went to the Boots For Dancing/ Buckley’s Chance gig that night at the Voodoo Rooms with all profits going to the Citadel Youth Centre in Leith.

A lot of familiar faces from the Scottish post-punk scene we hear so much about these days were in attendance and indeed Malcolm Ross is a member of Buckley’s Chance with his wife Syuzen Buckley providing the vocals.

Their country leanings aren’t normally my thing but they were very good indeed. I was particularly taken with the drummer who with his red shirt could happily have graced a Kraftwerk tribute band and managed to adopt a series of poses that only added to the entertainment.

Boots For Dancing were of course their usual excellent selves and a good night was certainly had by all. Earlier, while consuming a tasty gourmet beef burger at the Voodoo Rooms bar I’d met Willy Barr (pictured), the manager of the Citadel Youth Centre and he was understandably very grateful for all the support that had been shown. You can find out more about the centre and how to support them on their website