Monday, 17 March 2008

Anyone for a game of Edinburgh Monopoly?

In the Evening News today -

"As a new report reveals Edinburgh is facing a critical shortage of hotel rooms, what options are available to make sure visitors to the Capital have somewhere to stay?"
Todays article would have you believe that we are facing a crisis of hotelless tourists....much more worrying than homeless residents?

So like Caltongate will it be a case of look I`m a developer I now have 18 of your green little houses so I can cash them in for a French 5 star hotel...

Full article here Eve News

The following comments on article speak more sense -

It also seems to me that the quote from the Chamber of Commerce: "We have hotels coming through now at places like Quartermile and Caltongate, but it has taken years to get them to that stage. We are getting the image of not being friendly to developers"

shows a major ignorance of the national planning system..Deeply worrying that people like this are given so much newspaper space to spout.

It is true that Hogmanay and the Festival see a horrendous excess of demand over supply, and this needs to be addressed in anyway possible. But outside these relatively narrow periods lets remember that capacity in Edinburgh exceeds supply - often on a huge scale. Developments on the fringe of the city such as Edinburgh Park should be encouraged, but within the City Centre there are other considerations.In discussing 'hotels' it should also be remembered that Edinburgh has a long tradition of bed and breakfasts and guesthouses that goes back to when there were few hotels in central Edinburgh other than for the well-heeled. There are literally hundreds of these and their combined capacity is a significant slice of Edinburgh's accommodation pie. It has for several year's been in VisitScotlands interests (apparently) to exaggerate how 'busy' Edinburgh is and there are many anecdotal stories of the visitor centre suggesting accommodation in Penicuik or Haddington long before Edinburgh's own capacity is genuinely full.These small facilities utilise and preserve historic buildings without destroying them. The City Council is entirely right to think long and hard before ripping the heart out of the city in the fashion that all large hotel developments seem to necessitate. Reducing the city's appeal by inappropriate and ill-concerned developments may well solve the capacity problem by lowering demand as much as increasing supply.Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater!

Totally agree - and the dreadful Old Town Caltongate development, with its facade scheme and demolition of the Listed Caltongate Venture, is another nail in the coffin of the attracation of the city for tourists. Claims of the need for a new and very ugly Sofitel Hotel and a conference centre are greatly over stated in order that the developer can make a huge profit, aided and abetted by the Chamber of Commerce and sundry councillors and ex-councillors and tha daily blog.

They could sleep in their cars in the shiny new robotic car park...

The occupancy rates quoted in the paper today (as opposed to the online version) suggest that Edinburgh should be trying to fill what's there before building even more boxes glass and concrete monuments to spiv developers. The city is at the bottom of the comparison list with one fifth of rooms remaining unfilled - ie: below Hanoi but above Zurich. What effect will the dollar rate have on tourism from N America?