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An opinion poll conducted by Time Out magazine surveyed more than 20,000 people worldwide to rank the world’s greatest cities, asking participants to vote on a range of different categories.
For the last two years, the magazine’s annual survey has focused on how cities coped with the Covid-19 pandemic but this year’s poll aimed to find out what are the best cities to visit and live in.
The Time Out Index 2022 asked readers to vote across 30 categories including nightlife, safety, sociability, public transport and walkability to create “a global snapshot” of 53 popular tourist destinations.
After analysing the trove of data, Time Out concluded that Edinburgh is “full of warmth that encourages self-expression across communities via its art, culture and nightlife”.
Almost all Edinburgh residents who took part in the survey said they thought the city was beautiful (95 per cent), 93 per cent agreed that the capital was walkable, and only 14 per cent voted that Edinburgh was a dirty city.
In addition, Edinburgh scored 91 per cent for ‘not being rude’, 89 per cent said Edinburgh was not a stressful place to live and 88 per cent of those surveyed said it was ‘easy to express who you are’.
However, not all feedback collected was as positive, with less than half of those participating believing that Edinburgh is a diverse city (40 per cent), only 34 per cent said the capital was a good place to ‘meet up with someone romantically’ and 74 per cent said it was expensive.
Time Out's Scotland correspondent, Arusa Quershi, said: "There are many different characteristics to Edinburgh as a city, which when blended together make it one of the most interesting and entertaining places to live.”
The Time Out writer also said Edinburgh’s “picturesque” and “striking” architecture and green spaces made the capital a “buzzing” and “vibrant” place to live.
Ms Quershi added: “There is a togetherness and welcoming spirit in the city that is perhaps its true strength.”
The news was welcomed by council leader Cammy Day who said: “I’m incredibly proud to call Edinburgh my home and it’s clear so many other people also want to spend time in this beautiful city.“Not only is the Capital stunning, but it’s extremely walkable, filled with historical charm and green spaces and diverse in its outlook.
“That’s not to mention our vibrant cultural scene, programme of festivals and thriving hospitality industry, which attract so many people here every year.”He added: “All this is despite an extremely challenging couple of years, which businesses, festivals and hospitality venues have weathered. It’s our outstanding mix of restaurants, cafes and bars, green spaces, events and attractions, shops and hotels - and every single person who works in these industries - who we have to thank for the city’s continued appeal.”
“There’s no doubt of the beauty of Edinburgh - arguably the most beautiful city in the world – and it is a beauty enjoyed by visitors and locals alike which goes much deeper.
“Ours is a city that celebrates culture and literature, a living, breathing, working city with a world-class hospitality and retail offering that just keeps getting bigger and better.”
Mr Smith said investors’ confidence in the city centre was clearly evident, citing “freshly opened” Gleneagles Townhouse and the Virgin hotel in addition to new attractions including Johnnie Walker Prince Street and St James Quarter.
Mr Smith added: “Let's make sure we continue to work together, support the visitor economy and keep our great city at the top of the rankings, where it certainly belongs.”
Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) were also delighted with the news, writing on social media: “Can’t say we’re surprised.”
Several Edinburgh food and drink businesses got a mention from the Time Out article, including South East Asian restaurant, Ka Pao in the St James Quarter, Stockbridge’s chocolate café, Ocelot and Leith’s fine dining eatery, Eleanore, which recently won Restaurant of the Year at the city’s annual restaurant awards last month.
Rowan King, operations manager at Scoop Restaurants Group which owns Ka Pao, said: “As a new opening in the city, it's so flattering to be included in Time Out's roundup of the capital's must-visit spots. We're looking forward to our first festival season and to welcoming lots of new visitors this summer.”
Mr King added: “Scotland has so much to offer in the way of excellent food and drink venues and it's great to see Ka Pao Edinburgh being recognised.”
The article also cited Edinburgh’s fantastic range of arts festivals and the exciting launch of the Port of Leith Distillery that is slated to open at the waterfront early next year as further reasons for tourists to visit Scotland’s capital.
Ian Stirling, Co-Founder of Port of Leith Distillery said: “It’s no surprise to us that TimeOut ranked Edinburgh as the best city in the world to visit and live - with our spectacular landmarks, culture and of course, our thriving food and drink scene.”
Mr Stirling added: “It was great to see Port of Leith Distillery, our purpose built vertical distillery, mentioned ahead of our opening in 2023. We look forward to welcoming locals and tourists alike to our new visitor attraction with our bar area on the top floor offering panoramic views of the capital from port to castle.”
Glasgow also made it into the top five, being ranked fourth behind Medellin and Chicago, prompting the First Minster to take to Twitter to say: “What a brilliant endorsement of two great cities.”