VisitScotland optimistic about festive tourism

By Michael Heggie


VisitScotland have dismissed suggestions that Edinburgh’s tourism industry may suffer as concerns over the credit crunch continue.

Edinburgh’s population doubles at this time of year due to the intake of visitors for the festive period. The Street Party is world renowned and continues to attract visitors both domestically and internationally.
Tourism is one of Scotland’s largest business sectors, providing direct employment for 200,000 people and generating visitor spending of more than £4 billion a year.

James Lakie, spokesperson for VisitScotland, said: “The current economic situation will undoubtedly bring added pressure to Scotland’s and indeed Edinburgh’s tourism industry this festive period but we are in the fortunate position that we have a strong brand. Although challenging, the current economic situation has the potential to benefit tourism in Scotland and Edinburgh.

“It is vitally important that businesses continue to go above and beyond the expectations of visitors, by offering something unique or special businesses will undoubtedly continue to attract visitors. Our domestic visitors are going to have increasing importance due to the current climate, traditionally a large part of this market may have gone abroad for a holiday but due to the tightening of the purse strings there will be more and more opportunity to utilise this visitor.”

VisitScotland have adapted their marketing tactics in light of the current economic situation. In particular they stepped up the amount of promotion done within the UK this summer.

Despite the negativity surrounding Edinburgh’s tourism and retail industry the City is expected to perform well over the festive period.

Graham Birse, chairman of the Open for Business group and deputy chief executive of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “We have to concentrate on what we have to do, such as completing the tram work, making Princes Street the best it can be.”

The growth message is still very much an industry goal and the controversial construction of a tram line is part of these “ambitious growth plans”. However the tram line road works has not proved popular with locals and visitors alike. Glasgow has been making efforts to steal Christmas shoppers from Edinburgh while roadwork’s clog up the Capital. Posters promoting Glasgow as a Christmas shopping destination have appeared on Princes Street bus shelters.

Scott Taylor, chief executive of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “Our £270,000 Christmas Wrapped Up campaign is aimed at attracting more people to shop in Glasgow from right across the central belt, but with particular emphasis on Edinburgh given the disruption to roads in the capital.

“We are going all out to promote Glasgow’s reputation for being Scotland’s premier retail centre.”

Provisional figures released from the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) for 2007, show an increase of 1% in the total number of visits to Scotland by overseas residents compared to the period January to December 2006 (from 2.7 million to 2.8 million visits). In comparison, the provisional figures for 2007 overseas visits to the UK declined by 0.5 % from 2006.