Edinburgh attracts 'unprecedented' number of stag and hen parties despite pleas for Amsterdam-style crackdown
An unprecedented number of stag and hen groups are predicted to swarm Edinburgh this weekend despite pleas from residents for a crackdown on drunken tourists partying in the Capital.
One stag and hen trip company said booking data showed almost one in every ten stag or hen parties in Europe were set to be staged in Edinburgh, making the city more popular than traditional winter hotspots like Prague and Amsterdam. Matt Mavir, managing director of Last Night of Freedom, said: “We are expecting well over 100 groups to visit Edinburgh this weekend, which given it is the middle of February and months from the summer peak, is unprecedented for this time of year.”
The booking boom comes just weeks after the Edinburgh Old Town Association (EOTA) claimed Edinburgh should learn how to tackle unwanted tourism from a "Stay Away" campaign launched in Amsterdam. EOTA convener Eric Drake acknowledged at the time that tourism was important to the Edinburgh economy, but added: Without wanting to sound snobbish, some types of tourist are better for the city or less impactful than others." And he urged “discouraging hen and stag party-type tourism”.
Last week, the Dutch city announced the latest step of its campaign, banning the smoking of cannabis in public in the red-light district, which attracts millions of visitors a year, and also discouraging alcohol sales there. But Mr Mavir argues the ETOA and others who support a crackdown are “wasting their breath” attempting to push back against the stag and hen industry, which he claimed was worth tens of millions of pounds to the Edinburgh’s economy every year.
He said: “Given each group is worth around £5,000 to the city, this weekend, stags and hens will likely inject well over £500,000 into Edinburgh’s bars, hotels and restaurants. Considering it is still the winter, that is a staggering sum, and come summer, they bring millions to the city each and every weekend. Suggesting that these groups are unwanted is simply snobbish. No city on Earth in the current economic climate can afford to chuck away millions of pounds while jeopardising people’s jobs and livelihoods in the process.”
And demand this summer is expected to comfortably outstrip bookings for 2022. Less than two months into 2023, Last Night of Freedom says it has already booked half the number of Edinburgh trips for this year that it did for the whole of 2022. The figures for the coming weekend show that Edinburgh is second only to Liverpool in the whole of Europe for stag and hen party locations – attracting almost five times as many hen parties as London.
Mr Mavir said: “Amsterdam’s crackdown is possible because you are curbing the rules in a city that doesn’t have a ton of taboos left. In Amsterdam you can legally take drugs and prostitution is legal while in Edinburgh, the council tried shutting down every strip club in the city – so to compare the two is ludicrous. The reason Edinburgh is so popular, particularly with hens, isn’t because it is viewed as a den of iniquity – It is because it is seen as the complete opposite.”