Lonely Planet Writer

Edinburgh is the latest city claiming to suffer from ‘over tourism’

Edinburgh is the latest city worldwide to say that it is struggling to cope with the mass influx of visitors. It is claiming that the city is becoming crowded during its major festivals, and increasing problems with tourism “bottlenecks” are affecting residents in the course of their normal life.

Looking over Edinburgh Old Town to Arthurs Seat. Image by ©Martin McCarthy/Getty Images

Edinburgh’s tourism industry is believed to support 34,800 jobs and is worth around £1.46 billion to the city’s economy, and visitor numbers have risen by more than half a million in the past five years to 3.85 million. In explaining that the ‘over-tourism’ has become a concern, the Scottish capital joins the ranks of cities like Venice, which passed a host of measures aimed at protecting the city from overcrowding and unsustainable tourism, and Barcelona, which did the same. Donald Wilson, Edinburgh city council’s culture leader, said that plans to monitor the impact of the festivals will tackle how to “manage the success” of the industry.

Edinburgh the latest city claiming to suffer from ‘over tourism.’ Image: Chris Hepburn

Obviously having tourists flocking to your city is a positive thing overall, so the city is seeking to address the growing pressure on the city’s roads, pavements and public transport network. It has ordered an audit of how Edinburgh is handling tourism during peak periods, after concern was expressed by heritage bodies over the number of people flooding into the busiest areas. It is important that the city gets the situation under control as it is pursuing a target of boosting visitor numbers by a further third by 2020 and generating an additional £485 million. One idea mooted is for the city’s festivals calendar to be more spread out during the year to allow better management of tourist numbers.

Edinburgh is becoming overcrowded during festivals. Image: domhnall dods/Shutterstock

“Edinburgh has grown to become one of the world’s most appealing visitor destinations,” says Robin Worsnop, chair of the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group. “As the city garners more attention from around the globe, we’re working to ensure there is a balance and that the whole city benefits from our visitors.”