Published on : Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Robin Worsnop, the founder of tour company Rabbie’s and the outgoing chair of the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG), has voiced concerns that the city’s tourism boom could even “disappear” unless its historic heart is protected.
Edinburgh stands the chance of “losing its character,” at risk of becoming a “tourist ghetto” and in danger of having its appeal damaged.
The Edinburgh World Heritage Trust’s report highlighted the dominance of gift and souvenir shops, a loss of character, decreasing numbers of residents and over commercialization.
There have been growing concerns about the impact of the city’s booming tourism sector, which now supports 33,000 jobs and is worth about £1.5 billion, bringing evacuation of residents, congestion on roads and pavements at peak periods, and growing numbers of souvenir shops.
ETAG previously warned that “collective intervention” is needed to protect the fabric and look of historic areas, and safeguard the quality of life for the city’sresidents.
Worsnop said that the growth of tourism in Edinburgh had “detrimental impacts” that needs to be mitigated, if the city wishes to continue the boom.
Worsnop praised the Scottish Government for taking action to crack down on the number of properties being turned into holiday accommodation for rent via sites like Airbnb.
Adam Wilkinson, the director of the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust said, “It is undeniable that the tourism industry is important to Edinburgh, which has been a destination for visitors for over 300 years. We would now ask what the legacy is of the tourism industry in Edinburgh and what the tangible benefits are to the city and its communities?”
An important priority of a new tourism strategy approved by ETAG and the city council is that Edinburgh must remain “a living, working city with a reasonable balance between tourism and other economic activity”.
Another key pledge is to “recognize the rights of local residents to live in a city that works well, offers a good standard of living and retains its authentic character”.