Tourism shake-up

Concerns over liabilities at Marketing Edinburgh

Gordon Robertson

Gordon Robertson: strategy was rejected (pic: Terry Murden)

Edinburgh City Council has seized full control of its former arms-length marketing company amid concerns that the full extent of its liabilities are not known.

Marketing Edinburgh’s operations will be run in-house and a number of remaining staff will transfer their employment to the council.

Councillors agreed to contribute £55,000 to the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) to help it implement a tourism and hospitality sector recovery plan.

The council report includes the Resilience Reboot Recover plan outlined by ETAG as a way of saving the 18,000 Edinburgh jobs in these sectors which represents £1 billion of tourism related revenue.

The Council will also focus on a long-term approach to business tourism which is considered important to the city’s hospitality sector, and will work with industry and Scottish Government to secure more resources for the campaign.

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However, Conservative Group leader Iain Whyte has called for more information on the financial circumstances around the changes of control.

He said: “There is an important principle here. If this was any other company that the council was taking over then we would be clear about what the liabilities are.

“We have questioned the new board and their actions through the transition which they actually started. This has cost a huge amount, the company’s liabilities are unknown and no accounts have been filed. The public need answers here as they are footing the bill.”

Fellow Tory John McLellan supported the Conservative demands for a delay in taking Marketing Edinburgh in house until the company’s liabilities are determined.

We are very uncomfortable about how this has been handled

– John McLellan

He said: “This is a question of good governance. We don’t disagree that we must support tourism, but we have unanswered questions about how we have come to this position on Marketing Edinburgh. There’s something strange here and we have no adequate answers about the company. There are still some allegations about the previous board.”

He added:’ “We are very uncomfortable about how this has been handled.”

Speaking to The Edinburgh Reporter he said the current circumstances were rooted in the “ill-advised decision last October by the council administration to reject Marketing Edinburgh’s plans for the future and effectively collapse the company, which officers now accept was a mistake.

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