Edinburgh intends to drive up visitor numbers and spend per head through the development of the city's hotel and hosptiality offering.
At the seventh annual Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG), Scotland's Minister for Tourism, Fergus Ewing, announced details of the Edinburgh Tourism Strategy which plans to increase the number of visits to the city by one third, increase the value of visitors' spend by 10% and reduce seasonality across the sector by 2020.
If the targets are met, annual visits to the city would increase from 3.27 million to 4.3 9million, spend would rise from £310.40 to £341.44 per visitor trip (generating an extra £485m per year), and the current 40:60 split between winter and summer would reduce to 43:57.
The ambitious strategy has been drawn up following consultation with more than 150 tourism-related businesses, including the city's hotels.
Edinburgh's hotel business has developed significantly in the past 20 years with occupancy rising from 57% in 1990 to 77% in 2010 and tourism-related employment expanding from 12,000 in 1989 to 32,000 today. Investment in the sector currently includes the development of 1,400 new rooms by 2012 and the refurbishment of two of the city's five-star hotels - the Sheraton Grand and the Caledonian.
Chair of ETAG, Robin Worsnop, said: "One of the key priority areas identified in the strategy for Edinburgh 2020 is to ensure the ‘highest quality of visitor experience in order to maximise satisfaction, extend visitor stays and expenditure'. Developing our hotel and hospitality offering to be a major reason for visitors to choose Edinburgh will be crucial in achieving this goal, especially with repeat visits to the city accounting for approximately 50% of Edinburgh's leisure visits every year."
Meanwhile, Marion McKean, general manager of Whitbread's Premier Inns in Edinburgh, welcomes the development of the strategy and its highlighting of core priorities and measurable objectives.
"All the hotels in the city, and indeed around Scotland, will benefit from an improved tourism product and experience in Edinburgh," she said. "The better overall experience that our visitors have - which includes the initial impression, the overall welcome, navigation, and technology support for instance, the more likely they are to visit again and to recommend Edinburgh. That brings massive benefits for hoteliers and it is up to us to support this drive for an improved tourism product."
In announcing the strategy, Ewing said the Scottish Government is committed to supporting the growth of the tourism industry.
"The strategy recognises that tourism brings many benefits, not just for Edinburgh but for the whole country. It is ambitious and has clear objectives which will stand the industry in good stead for the future."
To implement the strategy, an Edinburgh Tourism Strategy Implementation Group will be formed, made up of key organisations from public and private sectors.
By Janet Harmer
E-mail your comments to Janet Harmer here.
If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.catererandhotelkeeper.com/tabletalk
Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Catererandhotelkeeper.com jobs