Top European city destination marketers have today branded a proposal to slash the budget for Edinburgh’s global promotions agency as ‘short-sighted’ and ‘unheard of’.
More than 200 leading international experts and event owners from over 80 European cities descended on Edinburgh this week for the European Cities Marketing (ECM) Spring Meeting 2019.
But the event, which Marketing Edinburgh, the city’s tourism and promotions agency, had worked hard to secure in June 2018, was overshadowed by an “embarrassing” council proposal to slash the agency’s budget by 89% next year.
More than £560,000 of Marketing Edinburgh’s 2019/20 budget hangs in the balance as councillors prepare to vote on the proposed cuts on 21 February 2019.
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 DMMO 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.”
An international leading association for tourism organisations, ECM aims to improve the competitiveness and performance of leading European cities. Senior destination leaders from across the continent have gathered in the city to foster critical thinking and debate on topical tourism issues relevant to Edinburgh, such as destination management and future travel trends.
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 Management 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.”
Edinburgh was announced as the host of the coveted conference in June last year following the successful bid proposal by Marketing Edinburgh which showcased its World Heritage and Festival City status. ECM recognised Edinburgh’s dedication to make cultural, sporting and business events a principal tactic in the city’s efforts to connect and communicate with the world. Supported by Festivals Edinburgh, the programme on ‘Eventful Cities! Featuring Festival of Failures’ will address both the successes and failures of some urban events’ organisation.
The European Cities Marketing Spring Meeting 2019 starts today at The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh and runs until Friday 15 February 2019.