Leader comment: Are we falling out of love with Edinburgh’s festivals?

They may be as synonymous with Edinburgh as salt ‘n’ sauce, but are Edinburgh’s festivals losing their appeal to locals?

Monday, 10th June 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 10th June 2019, 7:00 am
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest performing arts festival in the world, with an excess of 30,000 performances of more than 2000 shows. Picture: Getty

A new survey reveals just 72 per cent of people in the city felt they made Edinburgh a better place to live - the lowest recorded over the last five years and a drop of six percentage points in the space of the last two years.

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According to the council’s research, which involved 5,000 people across the city, retired people and the oldest respondents were the least likely to praise the festivals, followed by unemployed people. Full-time workers were the most supportive. So what’s behind the discontent? Rather than any anti-Festivals feeling - it is after all just three mad weeks a year - it is likely this is more of a reflection of the wider issue of over-tourism and the march of Airbnb across the city. No-one wants to live in a theme park, and these concerns are fully justified. City leaders have to weigh-up the economic boost to the city from tourism with the quality of life of all residents.

Measures are being considered - the most obvious being the long-mooted tourist tax. How might public opinion change if money raised from tourism was ploughed back into local communities? Regulation is also badly needed to control the number of short-term lets.

But let’s not blame the festivals for the city’s problems.