Visitor Economy Action Plan for Edinburgh – implementing the 2030 Tourism Strategy for Scotland’s capital city

What a pleasure to be working on a Visitor Economy Action Plan in Edinburgh - the UK’s most popular visitor destination outside London. But with success comes challenge, and Edinburgh’s Tourism Strategy, launched in early 2020, recognised the need to manage growth not just pursue it at all costs. So the Strategy took a different approach, prioritising those who live, work and do business in the city and securing its special character for current and future generations.

The Tourism Strategy was launched in early 2020, just as the pandemic struck.  And so implementation was put on hold until 2022 as the city struggled with the consequences of the pandemic.  As the situation improved, Blue Sail was commissioned by Scottish Enterprise and the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group to produce a Visitor Economy Action Plan which would move from strategy into implementation, taking account of a new policy context and operational environment. And how that environment had changed! Clearly recovery was still underway and for a destination reliant on international visitors, still had a way to go. There was a new national economic strategy, new regional partnership via the Edinburgh and Southeast Scotland Regional Prosperity Framework, new legislation on short term lets and a tourism tax (transient visitor levy) and various local and national climate strategies.

With a very long list of potential actions arising from the strategy and wider context, our role was to manage a creative process generating a deliverable programme with a focus on the short term while laying the groundwork for longer activity.  We took an iterative approach using a structured process with ongoing input from key players, experts and decision makers, constantly interrogating and refining the priorities and potential actions.

By the end of the process we had confirmed six themes addressing net zero, fair work, visitor management, data, advocacy and marketing with 12 associated actions for the first three years of the plan.

In support of the summary Action Plan we produced a detailed operational plan with sub-actions, lead responsibilities, KPIs and resourcing to guide management, monitoring and reporting.

The plan is now ready for the new partnership model Edinburgh is putting in place.

(Images courtesy of Forever Edinburgh)

A successful tourism sector working for a successful city … in a place we call home … in a living, breathing city …that works for all … in a city that we can be proud of.