Edinburgh set to surge ahead as Smith leads fresh tourism drive


(TVLW) – NEW plans to turbo-charge Edinburgh’s booming tourism economy during 2008 have been unveiled by the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG), which aims to outstrip the targeted national tourism growth rate by 13 per cent over the next eight years.

The new strategy aims for growth of 63 per cent for Edinburgh, amid growing questions over whether the national 50 per cent revenue growth target for the same timeframe is achievable without increased public-sector investment.

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The updated plan coincides with the appointment of a new ETAG chair, Barbara Smith, currently executive manager of Edinburgh Castle, Scotland’s most-visited tourism attraction. She takes over from Richard Jeffrey.

It also comes as new data from accountants PKF reveals that Scotland’s hotel sector is outperforming the rest of the UK.

Scottish hoteliers recorded a further 6.6 per cent increase in rooms yield in October compared to 5.4 per cent for the UK as a whole and 4.5 per cent for England.

The increase, particularly marked in Glasgow (12.9 per cent up), came despite a 0.3 per cent fall in occupancy levels, seen by analysts as a sign that the sector is “well-managed and efficiently run and successful targeting the business and conference market”.

ETAG’s “action plan” comprises a programme of projects designed to boost revenue in the capital by 5 per cent during the course of next year.

Tourism minister Jim Mather said at yesterday’s launch: “ETAG has worked relentlessly with private and public sectors, to ensure Edinburgh continues to be one of the top tourist destinations in the world. It is a great role model for the industry and for the rest of the country”.

The plan identifies four priorities: the city centre; festivals and events; the waterfront; and business tourism and conferences.