IT could quite possibly become the largest welcome mat in the world.
A Portobello man has launched a campaign to paint “Welcome to Edinburgh” in huge letters along the promenade to promote the seaside suburb to incoming air passengers.
Paul Lambie’s unconventional advert – which would lie beneath the incoming flight path to Edinburgh Airport – has won support of local community groups and councillors keen to attract more visitors.
The city council has also welcomed the proposal and is considering it seriously.
Mr Lambie, who works in television and film production, said the city does not market Portobello enough and wants visitors to know Edinburgh has a seaside just three miles from its centre.
The 34-year-old, who already organises an annual busking event along the promenade, said: “Portobello is a massive asset for the city but there are no signs saying ‘this way to the beach’.
“There isn’t really anything that points to Portobello at all. We’re a capital city with a beach, which is a huge thing.”
Initial plans suggest each letter would be up to five metres tall and the sign would stretch to more than 40 metres across in order to be seen from the sky.
At that size Mr Lambie said the sign would be just about visible from 1000 metres and clearly visible from 750 metres, which is roughly the altitude that a descending aircraft would be over Portobello.
He said: “I sat on the beach watching the planes go over about two weeks ago and I thought ‘why not make our own sign’?
“My original plan was to go out and just graffiti it with some paint rollers.
“Using Google Earth I started working out how big it would have to be to be seen from 1000 metres up, how much paint I’d need and how many friends to do it in the middle of the night, but it was going to take too long to dry.
“Then I thought it might be better to do it legitimately. I took it to Portobello Community Council and the city council and they loved it, and now we’re pushing ahead.”
The initial suggestion was “Welcome to Edinburgh” although the move has sparked a lively debate amongst residents over what exactly the sign should say. Some suggested “Welcome to Portobello” instead or simply “Welcome”.
John Stewart, chairman of the community council, said: “People thought it was an excellent idea.
“A few years ago tourist information offices in Princes Street were directing people to Gullane beach, so there is this slight feeling that Edinburgh doesn’t always appreciate that we are Edinburgh’s seaside.”
A spokeswoman for the city council said: “This is certainly a novel idea and any proposals will be considered.”