Thursday, 8 March 2012

Tourism Displacement, The Olympics and The Fringe

According to Malcolm Roughead of Visit Scotland, people who choose to come to London 2012 won't be swinging by Scotland whilst in the UK. Unsurprisingly, people who are coming to see the Olympics, want to watch the Olympics, see London and the South East while they are there, and generally soak up the atmosphere.

But at the same time, there is a secondary group of "displaced tourists" who will make the trip to Scotland instead of London to avoid the inflated hotel prices and all the rest.

So it seems that all the worry that was floating about the Fringe last year about 2012 playing second fiddle to the largest sporting event on earth have been turned on their head.

As a Fringe enthusiast, I'll be delighted if this turns out to be the case! Whilst there will never be enough crowd to go around for the number of shows hosted in Edinburgh during August, feet on the ground is essential and if we don't get numbers pouring into the city then everyone loses!

But as London fills up, these people have to go somewhere and the biggest arts festival in the world isn't a bad second choice.

In particular, I very much hope that the Fringe Office plan to hit London hard when they come to advertising 2012.

When I say "We need more Londoners in Edinburgh during the Fringe" I can just here the murmurs from the local skeptics... "aye like a durty big hole in the heed" or "I didn't realise that was possible".

At the same time, why would a Londoner want to swap, packed buses, streets full of tourists hogging all the taxis, overpriced venues selling overpriced tickets for.... Well.... More of the same. (With the only difference being that in Edinburgh, visiting Londoners would sweat their bollocks of when they're stuck in a hot dark venue not designed to have people rammed into it, rather than outside in the English sun).

But negatives aside (every silver lining has a cloud and all that), the Fringe is a magical place to be. Yes, the Olympics are special, but if like me, you'd rather watch an up and coming comic run rings round a heckler that watch an up and coming athlete run round and round a track, the Fringe is a cracking alternative.

And isn't that how The Fringe started out? As an alternative? Maybe being a real alternative again will bring out the best in the old girl?

Maybe the doom and gloom merchants will be right and the numbers will end up down... Or just maybe, 2012 will keep confounding critics and trends in the economy and be the best in years!