Why is BAA taking over Edinburgh tourism?
Last week the managing director of Edinburgh Airport, Gordon Dewar, became chairman of the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG). Dewar talks interchangeably about the needs of the airport and tourist industry. Surely increasing tourism means expanding the airport to allow more passengers to fly here from abroad?
It's not quite as simple as that. Firstly, British people fly twice as much as anyone else in the world. We do this because we're an island, but also because the aviation industry is such a powerful lobbyist. The impact on our tourism industry is dire: each year we spend £20 billion more abroad than foriegn tourists spend here. Visitors from overseas only make up 28% of the passengers flying to Edinburgh. The rest are Brits returning home.
This aviation-driven tourism strategy is unsustainable and embarassing. Remember the Homecoming campaign? Instead of empowering the managing director of the City’s airport we should be encouraging British people to holiday at home. Putting Dewar in charge of tourism is like leaving the fox in charge of the chicken coop.
The appointment puts BAA in an incredibly strong position to fight any increase in passenger duty or tourism taxes. It will allow the airport free reign to promote its expansion plans, which would lead to more noise and carbon emissions. And by equating itself with tourism, you can be sure that they won't be short of cash for expansion. Roll over while we rub your belly BAA.