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Cuts to Edinburgh’s marketing budget threaten city’s tourism industry

UK tourism trade association UKInbound has joined Marketing Edinburgh’s chief executive in urging Edinburgh City Council to reconsider a proposed 89% cut to its marketing budget over two years.

UKinbound has written to the authority, echoing warnings that Scotland’s capital could be left as the only major city in the developed world without a direct marketing management organisation [DMO].

The proposed cut would apply to Edinburgh’s Marketing Team, Convention Bureau and Film Office.

Joss Croft, chief executive of UKinbound, which is holding its two-day conference in Scotland this week, has urged the City Council to think again when it meets on 21 February.

“Edinburgh is a fantastic destination with a wealth of tourism product but there are many destinations and cities all around the world that are competing for international leisure visitors and lucrative events business,” Croft said.

“It is the second most visited city in the UK by overseas visitors and this proposed cut puts that at risk. At a time when the UK needs to be outward facing and establishing new trade partnerships – leaving the city without a DMO would undoubtedly hurt the city’s economy.”
John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, said the council’s proposal could cut £567,000 (64%) from the 2019/2020 budget and a further £223,000 in 2020/2021.

It would, he said, “have serious consequences for the city’s economy”.

“Without a body that unites public and private sectors in the city’s promotion and economic development, we will severely compromise the city’s ability to attract talent, conferences, business and visitors – while our ability to talk to those who live and work in the city, as consumers, will cease,” he said, adding: “These are all critical pipelines to a successful future Edinburgh and we sever them at our peril. Most immediately, these cuts would damage the £72m created by business tourism and the £16m delivered by the film economy.

“It would remove the ability for Marketing Edinburgh to rally the private sector, ending the significant financial contribution they currently make to city campaigns.

“It would also halt momentum and growth across all of our digital platforms; our campaigns, including Edinburgh.org.”

UKinbound is holding its largest ever annual convention, on 6-7 February at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall. More than 280 delegates are expected to attend the event which is held in the city for the first time in 31 years.