Managing Edinburgh’s Tourism Success:  ETAG Conference 2018

Managing Edinburgh’s Tourism Success: ETAG Conference 2018

Tourism leaders will be tackling the key issues arising from Edinburgh’s ongoing success as a visitor destination head on next month, when they attend the annual Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) Conference on Thursday 1 February 2018.

Themed “Managing Success”, this year’s event is particularly topical, centred on the challenges and opportunities brought by Edinburgh’s increasing popularity as a tourist destination for both domestic and international travellers.

Regularly topping global rankings and visitor polls as one of the world’s most popular and beautiful visitor destinations from the likes of TripAdvisior and Rough Guide readers, Edinburgh now attracts around 4 million visitors each year, injecting £1.4 billion into the local economy.

With 2017 set to be another record breaking year for Edinburgh, the packed conference programme will focus on sharing expert insight and encouraging informed debate. Topics range from addressing over-tourism and the rise of the collaborative economy through providers such as Airbnb, to ways businesses can increase visitor spend – not just the number of visits.

Robin Worsnop, Chair of ETAG said: “The potential future impact of Edinburgh’s growing popularity with visitors has become a hot topic of debate over the last six months. Not all of this has been factually accurate, nor has it taken into account the collaborative work already under-way within the city to ensure that growth is managed and sustainable. Our success should never be taken for granted. As an industry, we are always seeking to create the right balance to ensure the whole city benefits from our visitors, as they help sustain many local businesses, local employment and audiences for our extensive cultural and festival offering.

“This year’s ETAG Conference is stepping up to address the real issues and opportunities facing Edinburgh’s tourism industry in the coming years. It is one of our strongest line-ups to date, offering an incredibly high calibre of speakers.”

Having seen overnight hotel stays rise from 8 million in 2006 to 14 million in 2016, Amsterdam is now one of Europe’s most popular city break destinations. ETAG Conference keynote speaker, Geerte Udo, Director of Marketing Strategy from ‘I amsterdam’, will be sharing insights into the challenges faced and innovative steps Amsterdam is now undertaking to readdress the balance between visitors and residents in the city centre.

With Scotland’s busiest ‘paid-for’ attraction breaking the two million visitor barrier for the first time in 2017, Edinburgh Castle’s Executive Manager, Nick Finnigan, will focus on the castle’s planned strategy to manage success, while maintaining the quality of the visitor experience.

Closing the conference, Peter Jordan, Head of Insights at international research company, Toposophy, will be revealing the results of an independent report commissioned by Scottish Government, the Scottish Tourism Association and Scottish Enterprise on the Impact of the Collaborative Economy on Scotland’s Tourism Industry.

As set out in the Edinburgh 2020 Tourism Strategy, the city is collectively a aiming to increase visitor trips by 1.12 million and visitor spend to £1.5 billion per annum by 2020.. To ensure this growth is sustainable, the strategy sets out a number of strategic priorities which will also be addressed at the ETAG Conference in a series of micro-sessions.

Updating delegates on progress and ongoing ambitions for the 2020 Strategy include: George Lowder MBE, Chief Executive of Transport for Edinburgh and Jason Smith, Projects Director at City ID, on ways of Extending the Visitor Footprint; embracing Business Tourism to increase visitor spend by Amanda Wrathall, ‎Sales & Marketing Director, Edinburgh International Conference Centre; andSelling the “Off-Season” by Marketing Edinburgh’s Head of Marketing & Partnerships, Paul Wakefield. 

Geerte Udo, Director of Marketing Strategy, Amsterdam Marketing said: “The themes of the ETAG Conference, such as managing success and long-term impact of over-tourism are pertinent to many global city destinations.  I am thrilled to be part of what is a really comprehensive programme and look forward to taking away some fresh-thinking and insight from the various sessions.”