Kevin Buckle: Tourists need more things to do outside central Edinburgh

Crowds of tourists on the Royal Mile during last year's Festival. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Crowds of tourists on the Royal Mile during last year's Festival. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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This week I read a task force was to be set up to deal with overcrowding in Edinburgh in the peak visitor months. The problems certainly are obvious and need no further investigation. The solution is also obvious in that those visitors need to be spread out both over the city centre and further afield.

Therein potentially lies the problem with any task force. What they will manage to do is get more and more information and feedback about the problem, but not have the skills to come up with a viable solution.

After spending all my business life on the edges of the city centre’s core from West Nicolson Street to Cockburn Street and the Grassmarket and then spending some time in the Tron Church and in St Mary’s Street, I would hope I have a good idea of what is involved and how things have changed.

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What has surprised me, especially when talking about the Grassmarket, is how people making decisions about the area think they know all that needs to be known based on no more than very occasional visits that have often not been at typical times.

You can’t make visitors explore further unless you give them reason to and the best transport links in the world won’t help until the offering in other areas is improved. It would be naïve to think that currently there is enough reason for most people to go further afield than the wider city centre, though the potential for places like Portobello, Leith and others to attract serious visitor numbers is certainly there.

It won’t be easy and those choosing the membership of the task force will need to bear this in mind or a second task force will be needed!
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