Edinburgh Airport chief: China air link more than a tourism boost

Edinburgh Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar
Edinburgh Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar
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EDINBURGH Airport chief executive Godron Dewar has his say from Beijing after a direct air link was announced between the Capital and China.

“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

A common phrase used in all walks of life and one I believe in. And one I and my team at Edinburgh Airport can absolutely attest to!

When I came back to manage Edinburgh Airport in 2012, achieving a route to China was one of the goals I set for the team because I knew the potential it had for the airport, for Edinburgh and for Scotland.

A market of more than 1 billion people. A country steeped in history and culture. A country home to one of the business capitals of the world. And a country that has strong links with Scotland.

Today that potential has taken a huge step forward as we confirm the first direct flights between Edinburgh and Beijing.

We have worked so hard over the past five years to build relationships with our partners in China and carefully make the case for Edinburgh, and Scotland, to be on their destinations list.

Numerous flights and meetings, early morning calls and late-night dinners, sweating over presentations and business cases…it’s all been worth it to have secured a fantastic route and made many friends along the way.

READ MORE: First direct flights between Edinburgh and Beijing to launch in June

And I thank everyone who has been involved in this journey. The passion and determination shown by the team at Edinburgh Airport has never been lost on me and I’m proud to be a part of it, because it’s absolutely been a team effort.

And that team has stretched into the city as a whole.

There was a brand-new approach in city wide collaboration with the City of Edinburgh Council and Marketing Edinburgh to create the Edinburgh-China Air Link project.

Edinburgh Tourism Action Group’s China-Ready initiative launched three years ago to position the city as a China friendly destination. Three years of hard work and expectation that we would finally be where we are today.

And we’ve also been supported by the UK and Scottish Governments, Scottish Enterprise as well as VisitScotland and Transport Scotland.

We all shared a vision and set out to achieve it. As important as it is, we knew it was wider than tourism – it was also about business, engineering, financial services, culture and education.

And from our world-famous festivals and visitor attractions, to our leading universities, retailers and hotels, we’ve all played our part in engaging with and preparing the city for the Chinese market.

And those benefits are already clear – Edinburgh is second only to London as the most popular UK destination for Chinese tourists, and we’ve seen up to 40 per cent increases in visitor numbers from China at some of our top attractions.

READ MORE: Edinburgh’s average hotel rates hit £100 a night

Scotland has so much to offer and so much to gain from the world’s largest outbound tourism market.

And now everyone has to show that they are part of Team Scotland ahead of these routes commencing.

I write this in Beijing where we have announced this ground-breaking route, and I can honestly say there’s an excitement here about what Scotland can bring to China. We should embrace this opportunity and this market to show what we’re all about.

If you allow me to look at this personally for a moment, then it’s been five years of my working life and one of my biggest achievements to date. I’m proud to have played a small part in this great team - Team Edinburgh, Team Scotland – that came together and delivered.

The work doesn’t stop here, there’s more to do in the next few months and years to make this route as successful as it can be.

It’s fitting that in this Year of the Dog, that we tenacious Scots have got our teeth into this opportunity. We won’t let go.

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