Public support for Marketing Edinburgh has led to an eleventh hour revision to the city council’s budget proposal for the next financial year – which will result in a £267,000 reinstatement of funds to the agency if the plans are approved in a crunch vote tomorrow (THUR).
Following a large public response to a consultation on its future funding, the capital’s tourism and events promotion agency is now facing a less severe cut to its 2019/20 budget – which councillors will consider as part of overall plans to generate ‘recurring annual savings’ of over £100 million to city coffers by 2022/23.
According to a document released ahead of the full council meeting, the agency, which includes Convention Edinburgh – the business tourism arm – will face a cut of £300,000 next year, instead of £567,000, which was originally proposed.
The revision came to light in Coalition budget papers released online this afternoon (WED), which, whilst good news for the agency in that the cut is not as a severe, it also contained a note that Marketing Edinburgh will have to produce a ‘business plan’ that will see it transition from being a funded arms-length organisation (ALEO) to ‘zero funding’ from the council.
The Council Budget Motion paper read: “A total of 153 participants contacted the Council during phase two to oppose the change to Marketing Edinburgh and following review of their counter proposal, we have agreed to reinstate £0.267m subject to development of a business plan which outlines a detailed strategy for transition to zero funding from the council. This will include outcomes and targets to show that progress is on track, and scrutiny at a six-month review point.”
Plans to cut the Marketing Edinburgh budget by 89%, which were revealed suddenly and without warning earlier this month, have been roundly criticised by industry leaders, academics and European destination marketers in the run-up to the vote. If approved, the budget proposal could still mean a restructuring and refinancing of city marketing activities and for business events, which generate £72m in economic impact for the capital and immeasurable benefits to business sectors and academia.