Leader: Potential panda-monium for Edinburgh

Tian Tian in her enclosure. Picture: Neil Hanna
Tian Tian in her enclosure. Picture: Neil Hanna
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The arrival of Tian Tian and Yang Guang at the end of 2011 was met with a fair amount of cynicism in some quarters.

There were questions over the wisdom of the Scottish Government’s involvement and there were questions over paying so much to China in the first place to rent the bears.

After a hugely successful first year in the Capital, these doubts were pretty quickly dismissed. There is no doubt the pandas have been fantastic for Edinburgh, and Scotland as a whole, as the star attractions in one of the country’s leading tourist attractions.

They were worth something like £5 million in their first year, more than justifying the cost.

If, as we hope, we are soon to be hearing the pitter patter of tiny panda paws, that figure may well seem like small change.

A panda cub born in Scotland would spark international interest and lead to visitor numbers on Corstorphine Hill going through the roof.

There are estimates today of tens of millions for the city’s economy and certainly experience elsewhere shows that is not wide of the mark.

The income from merchandise alone would surely pay the bamboo bill.

It confirms that, despite the criticism, the hard work – and hard cash – it took to bring the bears to Scotland, it was worth it.

We won’t know for sure if full-scale mania is about to break out until it actually happens, given the obvious difficulty of performing an ultrasound on a Giant Panda.

So we will just have to keep our fingers crossed for the new arrival.

If it happens, you can expect the world’s media to arrive and for Edinburgh to be placed in the spotlight once again, presenting yet more opportunities to sell our city around the globe.

If you thought the arrival of Tian Tian and Yang Guang had been panda-monium, you haven’t seen anything yet.