Manuela Calchini: A warm welcome is at Edinburgh’s heart

Tourists are vital to the city's economic success. Picture: Randi Stodle
Tourists are vital to the city's economic success. Picture: Randi Stodle
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LOCAL people are the key when it comes to selling the city to tourists and they come up trumps, says Manuela Calchini.

THERE is warmth in Edinburgh and Lothians this summer – and it’s not only down to the seasonal climate.

Our people are warm too... and friendly, helpful, welcoming and nice. Not my words, although I fully endorse their use, but those of participants in the Visitor Scotland Survey who used them to describe the people they met in Scotland during their visit.

Warmth too is at the heart of Visit-Scotland’s global campaign – being, as it is, one of the seven spirits which encapsulate the intangible feeling visitors get when they travel here.

The Visitor Scotland Survey, the biggest of its kind produced by the national tourism organisation, also revealed that 82 per cent of visitors agree that local people add to the holiday experience.

For Edinburgh it’s never more apparent than during our world-renowned summer festival season. Our capital’s festivals are outstanding examples of how to internationalise your offering and promote not only your own event but the city of Edinburgh and Scotland abroad.

No-where else in the world can match the atmosphere created by thousands of artists, authors, dancers, comedians, actors, musicians and singers congregating in Scotland’s capital for those summer months, and it is the people of the city that shine throughout.

This year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival has Scotland at its core, bookended with two homegrown screenings – Tommy’s Honour and Whisky Galore – which celebrate, in their own way, two great cultural icons and major drivers of tourism in Scotland: golf and whisky.

It’s the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design too which is being celebrated by events across the region. As part of it, the Festival of Architecture will bring an international flavour to the Mound in July with its Pop-Up Cities Expo. Edinburgh is filled with architectural triumphs, and one such building, the National Museum of Scotland, is celebrating its 150th anniversary with the opening of ten new galleries as part of its ambitious £80 million masterplan.

Among them is a Fashion and Style gallery which is set to be the largest and most comprehensive display devoted to fashion in the history of the museum – and one of the largest collections of textiles and fashion in the UK.

For those of scientific mind, the Science and Technology galleries will display key innovations in science from Scotland and across the world, including the welcome return of first cloned mammal Dolly the Sheep – marking the 20th anniversary of her birth at the Roslin Institute in Midlothian, which is also holding events across the summer to recognise the major scientific breakthrough.

Another unique travel experience for visitors can be found eastward, to East Lothian. The Forth Ferry returns following last year’s successful trial and gives passengers the unique opportunity to experience both North Berwick and Anstruther, Fife, within a short ferry ride across the Forth - following the centuries-old Pilgrim tradition for worshippers heading to and from St Andrews.

Back in the city and Rabbie’s Trail Burners give visitors the chance to enjoy panoramic views of the architecture and history through innovative glass-roofed mini-coach convertibles.

These innovations are welcome for not only bringing new experiences for visitors but for creating new opportunities for boosting the local economy – as tourism is much more than a holiday experience.

• Manuela Calchini, VisitScotland’s regional director for Edinburgh and the Lothians