Sticking up for Gordon Robertson

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Edinburgh Castle; one of the main attractions not just in Edinburgh but in Scotland

Who is he you might ask.

He is the Chairman of Marketing Edinburgh and Communications Director at Edinburgh Airport. Ass such he should know a thing or two about the travel and tourism industry

Last week at a tourism conference he quoted a lyric from Pulp’s Common People, “Everybody hates a tourist.”

The line may be referring to tourists but in this case it is Mr Robertson who has been the object or criticism and that is by tourism professionals!

Those professionals insist he has insulted tourists and want an apology whereas if he was insulting anyone it would be the good tourism people of Edinburgh for their current attitudes. You can judge for yourselves because the man has made his whole speech available for all to read.

He suggests that over the summer, “Evening News commentators, heritage bodies, politicians of all hues and administrations, residents, businesses all voicing concern,” over tourism. So much concern was voiced, Robertson says that “The word “disneyfication” has been bandied about as a critique of the way Edinburgh is headed.”
After these comments and wondering whether Edinburgh hated tourists given the conversations over summer, Robertson then strove to defend “Disneyfication” saying it meant investment, trained staff, planning, and profit. He then wound up this part of his speech with, “Those that rail against disneyfication and are generally down on Edinburgh’s increasing popularity seem to want us not to develop, to be preserved in aspic.”

Politicians, other tourist professionals and city worthies bridled at these comments and well they might. Robertson was pointing out a few home truths. You can’t have more tourism without a local impact; you can’t have economic growth through tourism and expect not to have to invest to make the city better for tourists and above all, (to add my two-pennyworth) why build a tramto an airport when a link to a mainline station was what was really wanted.

Robertson is right. The city needs an urgent think into what it wants. If it doesn’t want more tourists then so be it. Robertson went on to say, “I’m optimistic that we can find agreement on why tourism in Edinburgh can be good and consensus on how best to manage it.”

Given how he was treated he might be forgiven to changing his mind and his optimism.


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