Edinburgh – Now A Theme Park! City Threatened By Overtourism

While London is the most visited city in the United Kingdom, it’s not surprising that Edinburgh also receives its fair share of tourists. During the festival season, the Royal Mile and city center become crowded well beyond capacity. This is a growing concern for locals who believe that it is turning their home into something of a “theme park” city.

Are Tourists Ruining Edinburgh?

Like most other popular destinations, the city experiences certain busy times. The festival season in August, and Hogmanay at the New Year, are especially notorious for their overcrowding. This creates an increase in road traffic that locals believe is causing congestion and pollution problems. The fragile areas of the medieval Old Town are also under threat, with little done to protect it from vandalizing tourists during such busy times.

This rise in tourism not only harms the city itself, it also threatens its residents, with rising prices and costs that threaten to drive families out. This is slowly turning Edinburgh into what author Alexander McCall Smith once called “a vulgar wasteland of tourist shops, big hotels, and nothing much else.”

Magical Mess

Apart from the festivals and medieval architecture, Edinburgh is now famous for its Harry Potter related tours. These walking tours show sights that are often only dubiously linked to the series, like the grave of a ‘Thomas Riddell’, who died in 1806. Hundreds visit it each day due to a coincidental similarity with Potter villain Tom Riddle. The increasing Harry Potter relatedness of tourism is most evident in the change in name of a popular pub in the city center. Once called the Conan Doyle, after famous Scottish author and creator of Sherlock Holmes, it is now the J. K. Rowling.

A Scottish cemetery.

Numerous other Harry potter themed restaurants, cafes, shops, and even hotels add to the swarms of tourists that flock to Edinburgh each year. This phenomenon is encouraged by local businesses, but has little to do with the city of Edinburgh or its actual history.

Popular TV series ‘Outlander’ also seems to have contributed to this increased influx of tourists. The popular British-American drama series sees a World War II nurse transported back in time to the Jacobite risings in Scotland. It depicts major historic sites in Edinburgh and Scotland and consequently resulted in a rise in visitors to these sites.

While the city is attempting to implement more sustainable tourism practices, with efforts being made to boost the capacity and reduce the pollution, there is still concern about the impact on the local community. Ever increasing and swelling numbers of tourists who contribute a significant amount to the local economy are unlikely to reduce.



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