TOURISTS have taken to the city centre streets to pick up litter after being recruited to join a drive to clean-up the Capital.
Visitors from as far afield as Peru, Asia, the US and Australia joined residents for the clean-up of the Royal Mile and the surrounding closes and streets. The organisers, walking tour operator Sandeman’s, repaid the 40 volunteers who signed up for an hour of cleaning with a courtesy tour and a free beer.
The move comes as Keep Scotland Beautiful warned in a hard-hitting report that Scotland was facing growing problems with litter, fly-tipping, dog fouling, graffiti and weeds. The city council has also come under fire in Edinburgh over failings in its waste collection service which has seen rubbish left piling up in the streets.
It has prompted a huge online debate with many praising the tour company and the tourists for their efforts and pointing out how much of the city’s litter is created by its own residents. Others decried the state of the city’s streets, saying it is embarrassing and shameful that the city has to ask tourists to clean up its mess.
Sandeman’s PR manager Billy Fisher said the response to the appeal had been very positive.
“We’ve been operating tours here in Edinburgh for over ten years and are always looking for ways to show our love to the community,” he said.
“We know visitors to the city love it as much as we do, and that they would want to help give back if we could only provide the mechanism. We were really pleased at how many people turned out. And that somehow, miraculously, the sun was shining.”
One of the litter pickers Dante Wong, from Peru, said: “I always like to see a city from the inside. Doing something like this is not common for tourists. I like Edinburgh very much. The people are awesome.”
Braden Andros, from Chicago, added: “The locals have a great sense of humour. They are brilliant. It feels good to help out the city and get a little something back.”
Emily Stalnaker, visiting Scotland from Bristol, added: “We had a free evening, so we thought we’d get to see more of the town, and it’s nice to give something back as well.”
But many residents were quick to voice their concern online. Thomas Garland took to Facebook to write: “How shocking is this? The council should hang their heads in shame. Come and visit Edinburgh – oh, and by the way, if you fancy throwing in a bit of charity to clean the streets up... that’d be great. Total embarrassment.”
Helen Crawford added: “If people – and I mean the people who live here – only used the bins then the tourists wouldn’t have to clean our streets. I am disgusted.”
Marlene St John Ayre said: “Thanks to the tourists but its not always their fault. The cause of all the rubbish is not only due to people who live here but to the way it’s collected.”