It’s testament to the various groups and individuals, community resistance and organisations that have been battling away for the past year and more that Donald Emslie, who has just been appointed chair of the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, should speak in the way he has been doing in recent interviews. See interview with Brian Ferguson at the Scotsman here.
He’s quoted as saying that “the industry had to address “anti-tourism” sentiments among some residents and ensure that the benefits of the industry were distributed better.”
He also said he did not see any need for the city to host any more major festivals or events in future given the existing year-round calendar – though to be honest I’m not sure how that’s physically possible anyway, so maybe no great victory there!
“There is a job to be done at the moment to win the hearts and minds of people in the city. Edinburgh is world-renowned for its history and culture. People have it on their map as somewhere to come and see.”
“We have a responsibility to manage that, but we also have a responsibility to articulate the benefits of that. The industry has to begin to ask questions and provide answers on how the city benefits from tourism. That has to be its agenda.”
But for all of the change of tone and nice words, we can expect more of the same.
As Andrew Heald noted:
Less than 10 days after @Edinburgh_CC launch their road-map for a net-zero Carbon Edinburgh by 2030, the new “tourism industry figurehead” doesn’t mention the target and appears to see a greater focus on sustainability as a threat to the industry … @ETAG_UK https://t.co/KOnPCAkd8s
— Andrew Heald (@andyheald) November 1, 2019
Reality bite: Elsmlie replaces Robin Worsnop, who had overseen an increase in visitor numbers of more than half a million in the past five years to 3.85 million.
The strategy of growth remains the same.
Elsmlie explains: “In common with just about every other city in Europe, tourism is growing in Edinburgh. It needs to be managed across the year and across the city to ensure it is spread out and not only centred on a few parts of the city. ”
There is no change to the growth strategy, there is no change in the metrics of measuring success, there is no change to the huge contracts dolled out to big corporations to take over large tracts of public space, there will just be an attempt to quiten down the restless natives.
Citizen is re-launching for a winter series of meetings. Details of how to get involved with you very soon.