Budget rethink call
UK tourism group urges council to drop marketing cuts
Marketing Edinburgh is walking a tightrope ahead of a budget meeting (pic: Terry Murden)
A UK tourism trade association has urged Edinburgh City Council to rethink plans for deep cuts to its marketing budget.
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 council is looking to slash Marketing Edinburgh’s budget by almost 90% over two years, sparking outrage among marketing and tourism professionals. The cut would apply to Edinburgh’s Marketing Team, Convention Bureau and Film Office.
Robin Worsnop, chairman of Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG), last week told his organisation’s annual conference that the proposal raised serious questions about public spending priorities in Scotland.
Joss Croft, chief executive of UKinbound’s which holds a two-day conference in Scotland this week, has now added his voice to the growing opposition to the cut which will be considered at a council budget meeting 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,” he 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: serious consequences
John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, has written an open letter to supporters about the proposal to cut £567,000 (64%) from the 2019/2020 budget and a further £223,000 in 2020/2021. The cuts represent 89% of the current grant of £890,000 over the period.
“This will be by far the deepest of all reductions outlined in the draft budget plan – and would have serious consequences for the city’s economy,” he said.
“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.”
“These are all critical pipelines to a successful future Edinburgh and we sever them at our peril. Most immediately, these cuts would damage the £72 million 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, the authoritative ‘Official Guide to Edinburgh’, have reached an audience of 80.1m worldwide in just one calendar year.
“Without Marketing Edinburgh, a dangerous gap would exist, one that our inception was rightly designed to fill. Our demise would see Edinburgh take a significant backwards step, with city promotion, management and economic development becoming increasingly fragmented.
“We believe there has to be another way. We suggest that the draft cuts are phased differently so to afford Marketing Edinburgh the time in the short term to create a different model.”
UKinbound convention is biggest ever
UKinbound is holding its largest ever annual convention, on Wednesday and Thursday this week at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall.
Taking place in the city for the first time in 31 years, more than 280 delegates will attend from across the UK.
Delegates will hear about key trends and forecasts for the future of the UK’s £24 billion inbound tourism industry and have the opportunity to attend a range of seminars to help grow their business.
It is the latest event in an ongoing programme of industry engagement in Glasgow led by UKinbound with support from Glasgow Life, an independent charity which provides culture, leisure and community learning services to citizens and visitors to the city on behalf of Glasgow City Council.