Edinburgh: destination marketers criticise ‘short-sighted’ cuts proposal

Leaders from one of Europe’s most prestigious gatherings of destination marketing organisations (DMOs) have voiced their disbelief at the ‘short-sighted’ and ‘embarrassing’ consequences for Edinburgh if proposed council budget cuts go ahead next week, a move which would potentially see the end of Marketing Edinburgh and the city’s convention bureau.

More than 200 delegates from 80 European cities have descended on the Scottish capital for the European Cities Marketing (ECM) Spring Meeting 2019 as Edinburgh faces the prospect of becoming the only city in the developed world without a DMO.

More than £560,000 of Marketing Edinburgh’s 2019/20 budget hangs in the balance as councillors prepare to vote on the proposed cuts next Thursday (February 21). The move is part of a package of cuts to balance the books amounting to around £47m.

Dieter Hardt-Stremayr, president of European Cities Marketing and managing director of Graz Tourist Office said: “I am shocked that leaders of any city would dismiss and undervalue the role of a DMO in contributing to its ongoing and future success. Such a drastic cut is unheard of in our circles.

“At a time of Brexit uncertainty, I find it incredibly short-sighted. Through its work with ECM, Marketing Edinburgh plays an integral part in strengthening ties with other European cities, sharing good practice and promoting innovation.  This is a time when Edinburgh should be investing in its destination marketing, not abolishing it.”

John Donnelly, chief executive at Marketing Edinburgh, said: “While we are honoured to welcome ECM and all the delegates of its Spring Meeting to Edinburgh, the timing could not be worse.  Destination marketing leaders from across the continent have travelled to the Scottish Capital to hear insights and inspiration from our industry experts. It is frankly embarrassing to be in this position.

“Should the cuts be approved, Edinburgh will be the only major city in the developed world without a destination marketing organisation. We remain hopeful that councillors will challenge the proposed budget on the 21 February and work with us to find an alternative funding model.”

The European Cities Marketing Spring Meeting 2019 is taking place at The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh and runs until Friday, February 15.

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